Shares of social media and other tech companies slid Monday amid fallout the siege on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump’s supporters.
Twitter on Friday permanently shut down @realDonaldTrump, citing concern that Trump would use it for “further incitement of violence.” Trump retorted that he’d be “building out our own platform in the near future. We will not be SILENCED!”
There is a growing risk for tech companies, especially social media, that Congress will attempt to collar them after last weeks rampage in Washington, D.C.
Some of the attack on the Capitol was discussed and planned on social media, giving new life to protections given to companies like Twitter and Facebook under Section 230.
Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act shields companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted — whether the complaint is legitimate or not.
Twitter Inc. was hardest hit, falling more than 10% at one point. By midday, however, shares were down about 4%. Facebook, which suspended Trump’s account through Jan. 20 and possibly indefinitely, declined 2%.
There was a protest outside of Twitter’s headquarters building in San Francisco, but it was lightly attended. The building itself is largely empty because executives and employees have been working remotely for almost a year due to the pandemic.
Parler, known as a far-right friendly platform, was removed from the app stores of Google and Apple and Amazon booted it off its web hosting service just after midnight Pacific time early Monday. Shares of Apple fell 2%. Amazon and Alphabet, parent company of Google, are both down less than 2%.
Trump supporters have argued that the actions of the technology companies is a violation of free speech and Trump has long tried to repeal Section 230. Though Trump’s tenure ends in nine days, power in the Senate has flipped to the Democrats who have long begrudged the oversized influence of social media.
The Associated Press