Ursula von der Leyen – Trump Presidency May Have ‘Permanently Damaged’ Democracy, Says EU Chief
World leaders are worried that Donald Trump’s time in the White House may have permanently damaged democracy, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during her speech at the Davos Agenda summit on Tuesday, highlighting the wariness among global leaders about the long term effects the former president’s agenda.
Von der Leyen started her speech at the summit stating that her bilateral concerns with the U.S. last year were focussed on tariffs, but a year later “we are worrying about whether democracy itself might have been permanently damaged in the last four years.”
Pointing to the “darker sides” of digital platforms, the EU chief talked about defending institutions against “the corrosive power of hate speech, disinformation, fake news and incitement to violence.”
Pointing to new EU proposals that would require social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to police their platform better and unveil their algorithms, von der Leyen called on the new U.S. administration to work with Europe on regulatory issues.
Noting that the business model of online platforms has an impact on “our democracies, our security and on the quality of our information,” von der Leyen highlighted that this was why it is necessary “to contain this immense power of the big digital companies.”
Several heads of state from all over the world reacted with shock and horror after a mob of Trump supporters violently invaded the U.S. Capitol on January 6. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the scenes of the riot made her “furious” and “sad,” while she rebuked Trump’s refusal to concede, stating: “Doubts about the election were stoked, and that set the atmosphere that made the night’s events possible.” French President Macron also expressed concern about “supporters of an outgoing president [taking] arms to challenge the legitimate results of an election.” Several people who participated in the violence had used social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to organize and many of them even broadcast their actions live from inside the Capitol building. Public outrage against the mob violence led to the removal of several prominent participants of the riot from social platforms. Facebook and Twitter eventually moved to shut down the former president’s accounts due to “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
In December, the EU unveiled two sets of sweeping proposals that target big tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and others with threats of billions of dollars in fines for either anticompetitive behavior or their failure to tackle illegal content. One of the two sets of proposed legislation — called the Digital Services Act (DSA) — will allow the regional bloc to impose fines of up to 6% of a company’s global revenue for failing to take down illegal content such as hate speech, terrorism, child pornography or the sale of illegal or counterfeit products.
Democracy could have been damaged forever in the last 4 years, EU chief says (CNBC)
‘Utterly Horrifying’: More World Leaders React To Mob Violence In U.S. Capitol (Fintech Zoom)