According to Forbes, Facebook and Twitter have closed accounts of people linked to the Chinese government and used as anti-propaganda on demonstrations in Hong Kong. The decision came after unspecified “investigations”, at the end of which the two companies decided – in fact – to intervene directly by walking into in a matter of domestic policy of a sovereign state, setting a dangerous precedent.
Formally, the decision is a “contractual” act. Thanks to the ubiquitous mantra “this act is contrary to our policies”, in fact, any provider of free or paid (with personal data) services can do what he wants with the accounts of its users. And so the decision of the two social networks is formally non questionable. But to say such a thing is very reminiscent of the story of the fool, the finger and the moon.
Preventing the use of a service is equivalent, for example, to blocking the sale of a certain product – that is: to impose an economic sanctions. But while economic sanctions are imposed by States following a certain procedure, an embargo (even temporary) on a service decided “autonomously” by a private company does not fall into the category of acts for which an institutional approval is necessary. In other words: thanks to the “liquid” nature of the Internet services, it is possible to impose “non sanctions” or send “non warnings” which, however, in fact and by all means, are sanctions and have a political meaning.
It would therefore be useful, once and for all, to clarify the role of US technology companies in the great geopolitical tragicomedy of our current times. Just to avoid that if only for a wrong post someone, somewhere, pushes the red button that launches the nuclear warheads …