US senator Bernie Sanders has said he doesn’t feel “particularly comfortable” with the permanent Twitter ban on former president Donald Trump because he does not like a “handful of high-tech people” having that kind of power.
Speaking to journalist Ezra Klein of the New York Times, senator Sanders called Trump a “racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody who doesn’t believe in the rule of law.”
He, however, added, “if you’re asking me, do I feel particularly comfortable that the then-president of the United States could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about that.”
The Vermont senator admitted that he did not immediately have a concrete solution for how to balance censorship with affirmative action against online hate.
“I don’t know what the answer is. Do you want hate speech and conspiracy theories travelling all over this country? No. Do you want the internet to be used for authoritarian purposes and an insurrection if you like? No, you don’t. So how do you balance that? I don’t know, but it is an issue that we have got to be thinking about.”
“Yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned, and tomorrow, it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view,” he said.
During the interview for the podcast “The Ezra Klein Show,” which the New York Times called an “unusually optimistic conversation,” Mr Sanders revealed that he doesn’t like giving that much power to a “handful of high-tech people.”
Twitter had repeatedly flagged several tweets of the former president but banned him after the January 6 Capitol riots due to “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
Mr Trump sees this as a “favour” by Twitter.
Speaking to Newsmax, the former president expressed no regret in losing access to Twitter and his 90 million followers. His 2020 campaign manager Jason Miller recently said that Mr Trump would be “setting up an alternative social media platform that would completely redefine the game,” reports said.
Mr Trump was also banned from other social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat.
In a series of tweets, the Twitter CEO had said that banning Trump from the platform was the “right move for the social network.” He added: “Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.”
Mr Sanders also spoke about cancel culture, the filibuster, Rescue Act, tech companies and other issues.
The Hill reported that senator Sanders has regularly clashed with tech companies and their policies. Speaking about Amazon’s Alabama warehouse workers unionising efforts, he said: “I invited Jeff Bezos to attend the hearing to tell me why a guy who was worth $182 billion thinks he has to spend millions of dollars to fight workers who are trying to form a union to improve their wages and working conditions.”
He added, “we need to pass legislation to make it easier for workers to join unions. Because if workers are in unions and can negotiate decent contracts, their wages will go up. Their working conditions and their benefits will improve. So we are working hard on that issue, and something I know the House has passed. I want to see it passed here in the Senate as well.”