Twitter, Facebook and other major tech companies are blocking the access of still-incumbent U.S. President Donald J. Trump after he repeatedly called for violence. Alexander Sängerlaub, a digital public sphere expert at futur eins, the Institute for Media and Communication Policy, puts what’s happening in context for us.

Published on the website of the Progressiven Zentrums. The interview was conducted by Paulina Fröhlich and Paul Jürgensen.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel considers the blocking of Donald Trump's Twitter accounts problematic. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said today that freedom of expression should only be restricted by lawmakers, not by companies. Do you also think it's problematic that Twitter and Facebook have now taken this step?

Alexander Sängerlaub: On the contrary, I think the step is overdue. Even before the election on November 04, Trump regularly attacked the integrity of the US elections with baseless accusations. On Twitter alone, Trump had more than 80 million followers who were confronted with his lies on a daily basis. Add to that calls for violence - and not just on social media - recall the TV debate and his call for the Proud Boys, a far-right militia, to stand by. Trump has repeatedly violated the platforms' community standards; of course, these are also tied to laws, but they are equally binding on users. When a president-elect calls for storming the Capitol, platforms must respond. (...)