Hot topics on democracy and social networks

The news of recent weeks has highlighted the fragility of democracies. Yes, of the oldest democracies like the United States, such as the one that was emerging in Myanmar and whose military coup d'état on February 1st spell the end of its democracy.

In the United States, the last presidential elections showed the importance of accountability to the people and the fact that the people, in a democracy, assert their sovereignty at the time of the vote. But by calling to march on Capitol Hill on January 6, the outgoing president shook the democratic institutions. The assault of his supporters against the Capitol reveals the worst legacy of Trump: "By his violence, the triviality of his words and often his actions, the outgoing president has given the right to quote instincts that a good institutional functioning is precisely intended to contain and channel," said journalist Guillaume Goubert (editorial in La Croix January 20, 2021, the day of the inauguration of Joe Biden).

But to the benefit of this tragic ordeal, we can underline the fact that the institutions, equipped with powerful safeguards, have held up well. 

Yes they did. Moreover, Donald Trump's Twitter account with its 88 million subscribers was definitively closed, three days after the Capitol riots, because of the "serious and repeated violations" committed by Trump on the digital platform: the president of the United States made his political announcements there, ranting against the media and insulting his opponents on a daily basis. After Twitter, six other digital platforms decided to exclude Donald Trump. Clearly, these activities and positions taken by the digital giants highlight their power over public debate and democracy. It underlines the need for further political debate on freedom of expression and respect for others on the internet and social networks.

This brings us to Myanmar. Since the military coup that toppled Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government on 1 February, the army has repeatedly ordered the blocking of Twitter and Facebook, the internet gateway for millions of Burmese, to silence the country's growing protests. Despite continuing arrests and the cutting off of the internet, thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of Rangoon this weekend, lifting three fingers, as in the fictional film Hunger Games, to signify their act of resistance. In the images posted yesterday by AFP on Twitter, we see the inhabitants of Rangoon who, as every evening at 8pm, bang on pots and horns. They reject the coup d'état and the military dictatorship. It's "unimaginable and unbelievablefor me in this 21st century," said a young demonstrator. We can only express our support for the Burmese people and pray for a return to democracy in this country as soon as possible.