UN chief worried by power of social media companies

UN chief Antonio Guterres raised concerns about data being sold to advertisers, among other issues. PHOTO: ST FILE

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Thursday (Jan 28) he is "particularly worried" about the power of social media companies and that mechanisms should be created to regulate decisions like the banning of former US president Donald Trump from Twitter.

Twitter Inc Chief Executive Jack Dorsey has said that banning Trump from posting messages after the violence at the US Capitol on Jan 6 was the "right decision," but said it sets a dangerous precedent.

When asked about the move, UN Secretary-General Guterres suggested that there should be "a regulatory framework with rules that allow for that to be done in line with law." "I do not think that we can live in a world where too much power is given to a reduced number of companies," he told reporters.

"And I must say that I'm particularly worried with the power that they already have." Guterres raised concerns about data being sold to advertisers, but also being used "to change our behaviour, and the risks of that to be used also, from a political point of view, for the control of citizens in countries."

Facebook also banned Trump. It has referred its decision on Trump to an independent oversight board it created last year.

The board has received 150,000 appeals since it started accepting cases in October. It ruled on its first cases on Thursday, saying Facebook was wrong to remove four of five pieces of content the board reviewed.

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