The war between Silicon Valley and Washington takes a new turn

By | January 9, 2021

Politico reports:

Silicon Valley is punching back.

After more than 1,400 days of trying to placate and handle President Donald Trump and his allies, the tech industry is taking on the Trump machine with just days left in the president’s term.

In a flurry of quick moves this week, Twitter permanently banned Trump’s account and Facebook kicked him off its platform for at least the remainder of his presidency, while Google and Apple cracked down on a social platform seen as a refuge for Trump and his supporters. Companies like Reddit, TikTok, Snapchat and Pinterest also announced restrictions after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol in the president’s name.

The rat-tat-tat of takedowns was a striking display of the tech industry’s power to shape the fate of even the president of the United States. And it comes after years of efforts by both Democrats and Republicans in Washington to cut Silicon Valley down to size — including lawsuits that Trump’s antitrust enforcers have filed in recent months against Facebook and Google, plus efforts on both the right and left to challenge Section 230, the provision in communications law that limits online platforms’ liability for what users post to them.

Those lawsuits, legislative efforts and a potential antitrust investigation of Apple’s App Store echo the complaint that, remarkably, Trump supporters, civil libertarians and some prominent Democrats are airing this weekend: No handful of companies should have this much unilateral authority.

“[I]t should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions — especially when political realities make those decisions easier,” American Civil Liberties Union senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane said in a statement. [Continue reading…]