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Debate: Big Tech Was Right to Deplatform Trump


Shortly after a far-right mob stormed the Capitol complex on January 6 Big Tech finally unplugged President Donald Trump. For years he had used social media to communicate with his supporters. And as lawmakers in the Capitol scurried to find places of safety Trump had continued: ‘STOP THE STEAL’, he posted. ‘You will never take back our country with weakness.’ Then, suddenly, Big Tech cracked down. Reddit removed the r/DonaldTrump subreddit. YouTube tightened its policy on posting videos that called the outcome of the election into doubt. TikTok took down posts with hashtags like #stormthecapitol. Facebook suspended Trump’s account indefinitely, and Twitter took his account away permanently.

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.


Speakers For The Motion

James Bosworth

Author of the Latin America Risk Report and founder of Hxagon a political risk consulting firm

Author of the Latin America Risk Report and the founder of Hxagon, a consulting firm that provides political risk analysis and bespoke investigations in emerging markets. He recently wrote in the Financial Times that the deplatforming of all despots should be considered.

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu

Political and women's rights activist

Political and women's rights activist, she is the founder of the Women in Leadership Publication. She is the author of This is Why I Resist and is a regular contributor on Sky News, This Morning, Good Morning Britain and CNN.
Speakers Against The Motion

Freddie Sayers

Executive Editor of online news outlet UnHerd

Executive Editor of online news outlet UnHerd, where he presents the online video programme, LockdownTV. He was the founder and CEO of Politics Home and former Editor-in-Chief of YouGov.

Nadine Strossen

First female President of the ACLU from 1991 - 2008

American civil liberties activist who was president of the American Civil Liberties Union from February 1991 to October 2008. A liberal feminist, she was the first woman and the youngest person to ever lead the ACLU. She is emerita professor of Law at New York University and the author of many books including HATE: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship.

Manveen Rana

Senior investigative journalist and host of The Times and Sunday Times flagship podcast Stories of Our Times

Senior investigative journalist and host of The Times and Sunday Times flagship podcast Stories of Our Times. She was previously a broadcaster and reporter for BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme and The World at One.


Speakers are subject to change.