On January 6 2020 Big Tech unplugged President Donald Trump. For years he had used social media to communicate with his supporters.
Liberal commentators in the US argued that deplatforming Trump was the right decision — in spite of their concerns about the power of Big Tech. Tech companies, they said, are private entities that, like all traditional publishers, choose what to publish and what to avoid. Deplatforming Trump was accountability, they argued, not censorship.
But many saw this as a chilling move. “We couldn’t beat you in the war of ideas and discourse, so we’re pulling your mic” — that’s how Archon Fung, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government put it. Deplatforming Trump, critics said, showed the world that unelected Silicon Valley elites have the power to silence those they deem unpalatable. If you don’t like Trump then by all means challenge his rhetoric with open debate — but don’t support tech companies that censor politicians their CEOs don’t happen to like.