Did Trump break the law

Trump versus Twitter : There is also freedom to tell lies

A bigoted man preaches water and drinks wine. He sings the high song of freedom of expression and intervenes in it. He railed against censorship and presumed to be able to make binding judgments about right and wrong. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says social networks shouldn't be the arbiter of the truth. In doing so, he supports US President Donald Trump, who is angry about Twitter because two of his tweets were given a warning for the first time.

But Facebook even lets research portals check whether posts contain false news. Then they are marked accordingly. So the company is definitely an arbiter of the truth. In Germany, such a fact-check warning has now been banned because it could be misunderstood. The "Correctiv" research network is no longer allowed to use the "partially incorrect stamp" in a specific case.

Even hatred can be an opinion

Two freedoms are at odds with each other. On the one hand, there is the right to freedom of expression. Even if exercising it is often annoying, painful and disrupts the consensus, it should be as broad as possible. Because the strength of a society is also measured by how much dissent and disputes it can tolerate.

Even hatred can be an opinion. Any tendency to reduce the space for discussion for the sake of peace must be resisted. It's exhausting, even exhausting. But the vision of a culture of debate based on pure facts is not only illusory, it is also totalitarian.

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Trump's resentment on Twitter - and on behalf of other online platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and Instagram - is understandable. He has every right to spread nonsense. He's not breaking any law. The posting of his statements as untrue by a neutral company like Twitter must be perceived by him, especially during election campaigns, as unfair interference.

The halo of neutrality

But at this point a second right comes into play: that of entrepreneurial freedom. Twitter, Facebook and Co are private companies that are not subject to any government supervision. They can give themselves their own rules, decide according to their own criteria what can be published with them. If Twitter boss Jack Dorsey wanted to, he could block Trump's account tomorrow.

In Germany, the so-called Network Enforcement Act obliges the company to delete illegal content. But that pushes employees into the role of judges. More and more legal content is blocked in order to avoid any risk of prosecution. That is not ideal.

Against too many fact checks

But there is also the risk of losing the aura of neutrality, which is irreplaceable for the business model. If social media platforms are suspected of being biased, this jeopardizes their acceptance on the market. Therefore, too many fact checks should be warned.

Is socialism worse than capitalism? Is a vegan diet harmful to your health? Does a Good God Exist? When Twitter and Facebook employees answer such questions, the search for the truth falls by the wayside. Then the public loses what is constitutive for its being - the free exchange of thoughts and opinions. Better a Trump who spreads lies than democratically illegitimate bodies that rule over truth and lies in an authoritarian manner.

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