Shortly after the Jan. 6 Capitol protest during which pro-Trump rioters ran amok through the building – resulting in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol police officer – social media companies Twitter, Facebook and YouTube banned Trump’s accounts or restricted his access.
The Republican was accused of inciting the riot in a speech earlier in the day and impeached by the House of Representatives on the charge.
Sanders appeared Tuesday on ‘The Ezra Klein Show,’ a podcast from The New York Times, and was asked about conservative criticism that liberals were ‘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,’ Sanders said.
U.S. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 27. Sanders told ‘The Ezra Klein Show’ on Tuesday he was not ‘comfortable’ with Twitter’s permanent ban on Trump arising from the January 6 Capitol riot
Former President Donald Trump looks at his phone in the White House on June 18, 2020. Trump was a prolific Twitter user during his presidency, using the platform to reach millions of followers
New York Times opinion columnist and podcaster Ezra Klein, who questioned Sanders about conservative claims that liberals were ‘too censorious’
The outspoken liberal has called on numerous occasions for the breakup of Big Tech companies, criticizing the biggest among them as monopolies.
He has taken particular aim at Amazon for working conditions at its warehouses and for not paying higher federal taxes – the company paid no tax for 2018, despite income of more than $11 billion, CNBC reported.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey previously said he thought banning an account was a failure by the company ‘to promote healthy conversation’ even though he said barring Trump was the ‘right decision for Twitter.’
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, photographed in October 2020, says Trump’s ban was the ‘right decision for Twitter’ following the riot at the U.S. Capitol that resulted in the deaths of five people, including a police officer. Trump was accused of inciting the riot in a speech earlier in the day and impeached by the House of Representatives on the charge
The social media platform issued a statement January 8 saying Trump’s account had been permanently blocked ‘due to the risk of further incitement of violence’ by the then-president
Sanders maintained in the podcast interview that internet platforms should not allow ‘hate speech and conspiracy theories’ to spread 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,’ Sanders said. ‘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.’
The former presidential candidate who twice sought the Democratic Party’s nomination said he did not like ‘giving that much power to a handful of high-tech people.’
One of the tech world’s biggest names leans in the same direction on the former president being placed on a social media blacklist.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said in a February interview that he believed companies should eventually allow Trump back.
Bill Gates of Microsoft says companies should eventually lift the Trump social media ban
‘I think at some point he probably will be allowed back on and probably should be allowed back on,’ Gates told CNBC.
Twitter declined to comment on Sanders’ remarks, Axios reported, but a company spokesperson pointed to the company’s January 8 statement explaining Trump’s ban was ‘due to the risk of further incitement of violence.’
‘In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action,’ the company said in its post.