Sanders says he isn’t ‘comfortable’ with Twitter’s Trump ban
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says in a newly published podcast interview that he does not “feel particularly comfortable” with Twitter’s permanent ban on former President Trump.
Sanders appeared on The New York Times podcast “The Ezra Klein Show” on Tuesday to discuss the state of the Democratic Party and was asked about criticisms from conservative figures that liberals had become “too censorious” and “too willing” to censor others.
“Look, you have a former president in Trump, who is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody who doesn’t believe in the rule of law. This is a bad news guy,” Sanders said. “But if you’re asking me, do I feel particularly comfortable that the president, the then-president of the United States, could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about it.”
However, Sanders maintained that internet platforms should not allow for “hate speech and conspiracy theories” to spread out across the country or be used for “authoritarian purposes and insurrection.”
“So how do you balance that? I don’t know, but it is an issue that we have got to be thinking about. Because of anybody who thinks yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned, and tomorrow it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view,” Sanders added.
The Vermont senator said he also did not like “giving that much power to a handful of high-tech people.”
Shortly after the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol breach, social media companies including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube either banned Trump’s accounts or restricted his access.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said he felt banning an account was a “failure” for his company “to promote healthy conversation” though he maintained that he believed it was the “right decision for Twitter.”
Other prominent figures have suggested platforms relax their restrictions. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, for example, said in a February interview that he believed companies should eventually allow Trump back on.
“I think at some point he probably will be allowed back on and probably should be allowed back on,” Gates told CNBC at the time.
Sanders has regularly clashed with tech figures over their policies and platforms, and used his interview with the Times podcast to also raise criticisms against Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos.
A prominent critic of Bezos, Sanders had invited the CEO to testify at a hearing this week about inequality amid a push by Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama to unionize. A spokesperson for the company previously told The Hill that Bezos would not attend.
“I invited Jeff Bezos to attend the hearing to tell me why a guy who was worth $182 billion, that’s a ‘B,’ $182 billion thinks he has to spend millions of dollars to fight workers who are trying to form a union to improve their wages and working conditions,” said Sanders, who serves as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
“We need to pass legislation to make it easier for workers to join unions because if workers are in unions and can negotiate decent contracts, their wages will go up. Their working conditions and their benefits will improve,” he added.