The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has called for global rules to regulate powerful social media companies like Twitter and Facebook.
The UN Secretary-General said he believes it shouldn’t be a company that has the power to decide whether, for example, that ex-President Donald Trump’s Twitter account should be closed.
Rather, he recommended, a “mechanism” should be created “in which there is a regulatory framework with rules that allow for that to be done in line with law.”
“I do not think that we can live in a world where too much power is given to a reduced number of companies,” Mr Guterres stressed at a news conference.
Earlier this month, Twitter banned Mr Trump’s nearly 12-year run account, cutting an instant line of communication to his 89 million followers that was a hallmark of his presidency. Facebook and Instagram on the other hand suspended the then President.
Twitter said Mr Trump’s tweets could incite violence following the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by his supporters. Conservatives have as a result accused the social media companies of censorship and violating the First Amendment’s right to free speech.
Mr Guterres also revealed he is “particularly worried” about the power of social media companies.
He pointed to “the volume of information that is being gathered about each one of us, the lack of control we have about … the data related to ourselves, the fact that that data can be used not only for commercial purposes to sell to advertising companies … but also to change our behaviour, and the risks of that to be used also from a political point of view for the control of citizens in countries.”
He said this “requires a serious discussion” and that is one of the objectives of his “Roadmap for Digital Cooperation” launched in June 2020.
The roadmap’s aim is to promote “a safer, more equitable digital world.”
It calls for action in eight areas including achieving universal connectivity to the Internet by 2030, “promoting trust and security in the digital environment” and “building a more effective architecture for digital cooperation.”
“Digital technology issues are too often low on political agendas,” it says.
The roadmap’s provisions is also a call for strengthening the Internet Governance Forum, which bring people from various groups in the public and private sector together to discuss public policy issues related to the Internet, “in order to make it more responsive and relevant to current digital issues.”
Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against the increasing influence of big tech companies, which he said are “competing” with states.
“These are not just economic giants, in some areas they are already de facto competing with states,” President Putin said, speaking at the Davos Virtual Economic Summit on January 27.
The Russian leader also questioned whether the recent behaviour of some US firms in the country’s Presidential election raised the prospect of tougher regulation.
Russian telecommunications regulator, Roskomnadsor announced that social media giants including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki would all face fines for failing to delete calls for youths to participate in illegal protests across the country on January 23 organized by opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his supporters.