MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday stepped up his criticism of restrictions on freedom of expression following moves by leading social media firms to suspend U.S. President Donald Trump’s access to their platforms.
Without mentioning Trump by name, Lopez Obrador said it was not right that private companies should appoint themselves arbiters of what was acceptable for global consumption.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed that since they took these decisions, the Statue of Liberty in New York is turning green with anger, because it doesn’t want to become an empty symbol,” Lopez Obrador told reporters at a regular news conference.
“What we want in Mexico is that liberties are guaranteed,” he said. “Zero censorship. Prohibition is prohibited.”
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are among the platforms that have at least temporarily cut off Trump due to concerns he could fan violent unrest following the storming of the U.S. Capitol building by hundreds of his supporters last week.
A combative leftist, Lopez Obrador in 2006 led massive protests in Mexico claiming he had been robbed of the presidency. He again cried foul when he was defeated in 2012, and finally won office by a landslide six years later.
A critic of Trump while in opposition, Lopez Obrador as president has regularly paid tribute to the U.S. leader, who is widely disliked in Mexico for his insults against migrants, and threats to inflict economic pain on the country.
Lopez Obrador made passing mention of Twitter, which has permanently suspended Trump’s account, and Facebook.
He is not the only world leader to raise concerns about the measures taken by social media companies.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said this week that she regarded the permanent suspension of Trump’s access to Twitter as problematic.
Lopez Obrador also expressed concern about an “invasion of privacy” by companies, giving as an example what smartphones are able to learn about people’s personal lives and tastes.
(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Alistair Bell for Reuters)
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