Information revealed last Sunday in the United States attests that the lies and falsehoods spread on the internet by Donald Trump’s supporters have generally decreased by 70% following the suspension of accounts belonging to the outgoing president of the country and his allies. As for me, I don’t have any doubts: This is good for American democracy and an example for other democracies.
However, there are a few people on all sides who are peremptorily claiming that the major communication platforms’ suspension of Trump’s account is an act of censorship. They are the distracted democrats.
This is the question we need to ask: Do incitement to hate and insurrection against the democratic system constitute mere opinion? There can only be one answer: no. It is a crime. Just as, for example, it is a crime not only to murder someone, but to order someone else to do it.
During his four years as the head of the U.S., Trump dedicated himself to spreading lies and falsehoods, promoting division and inciting hate among Americans. He had the good will to do so not only from major technological platforms like Twitter, but also from powerful conventional media conglomerates, especially Fox. Those media were therefore responsible for feeding Trumpism.
Everyone knows that there is an America that is racist, xenophobic, revisionist and violent, among other things. But the truth is that during the past four years, America was literally intoxicated by Trumpism and its allies, which allowed it to grow to the point of feeling emboldened to attack the symbol of American democracy on Jan. 6.
In any case, Twitter, followed by the other digital communications platforms, only suspended the future former president’s account after the attack on the Capitol. We have to say it: What happened on Jan. 6, 2021, in the U.S. was an attempt to forcefully undo the election results — in other words, a coup. Last Sunday, local press showed new images from the episode that showed how much more serious and dramatic it was than had previously been known.
Several Capitol attackers stated at the time that they were obeying Trump’s voice. His responsibility is, therefore, undeniable. How can people continue to claim that his declarations fall under the sacred right to freedom of expression and that the prevention of their spread by the media — which, whether private or not, have a public responsibility — is allegedly censorship?
Clearly, communication and journalism need to be urgently reconsidered. From their connection with freedom of expression to their relationship with politics and the market, the ideology of journalistic objectivity, the myth of false equivalencies and the fight for ratings, what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C., will force the sector to deeply reflect. Americans have already begun to do so. This reflection will soon reach other societies.
In the area of the Portuguese language, Brazilians — perhaps because they have an even sleazier Trump imitation at home — are also showing signs of heading in that direction.
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