Former President Donald Trump is upping the pressure on Meta to reinstate his Facebook and Instagram accounts ahead of his 2024 Presidential election bid. Meta, which suspended Trump from its services following the January 6 attacks on the Capitol, is expected to make a decision one way or another this month on whether or not to let one of the platform’s most toxic users continue posting to his more than 35 million followers.
This week, according to NBC News, Trump’s campaign wrote a letter to Meta formally petitioning it to unblock his accounts, claiming the company’s actions, “dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse.” The campaign reportedly called for a meeting with Meta so it could discuss the platform’s impact on free speech. Trump’s letter comes two months after Twitter, at the behest of newly minted red pilled CEO Elon Musk, opted to welcome Trump back online. If Meta prolongs the ban, Trump’s campaign could jockey with House Republicans to exert more pressure on Meta, according to the NBC report.
In the letter, Trump’s campaign cited Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, who during an October event with the Council on Foreign Relations said private companies, “should tread with great thoughtfulness when seeking to, basically, silence political voices.” The letter also pointed out that Meta’s two year ban on Trump’s account officially expired on January 7th.
“We also believe that a continued ban would basically constitute, in the words of Mr. Clegg, a deliberate effort by a private company to silence Mr. Trump’s political voice,” Trump’s campaign wrote. “Moreover, every day that President Trump’s political voice remains silenced furthers an inappropriate interference in the American political and election process.”
Meta did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
While a great portion of media coverage concerning Trump and social media tends to focus on the former president’s late night Twitter ravings, campaign and digital strategy experts say Facebook actually plays a more decisive role in the president’s electoral prospects. That’s thanks to Meta’s largely unrivaled digital advertising behemoth. Small donations, a good chunk of which was sucked up via Facebook’s ads infrastructure, reportedly helped the Trump campaign raise more than $378 million in small dollar donations during the 2020 presidential election.
“It really fucks the other ‘24 wannabes,” a top GOP strategist previously told Politico.
To ban or not to ban
Meta’s Trump-suspension saga could be coming to a close in the coming weeks, for better or worse. For anyone catching up, the company initially suspended Trump’s account “indefinitely” on January 6, 2021, around 24 hours after the president seemingly incited his followers to storm the Capitol, injure guards and shit in hallways during their ill-fated attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. Internal documents made public by Gizmodo as part of The Facebook Papers project revealed the company’s own data pinpointed Trump’s account as being principally responsible for a surge in reports concerning violations of its violence and incitement rules in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
Meta’s decision to suspend Trump was eventually sent to the Oversight Board, a semi-autonomous Supreme Court-like entity that reviews the platform’s most consequential policy decisions. The Oversight board upheld the ban, but took issue with its vague “indefinite” timeline. The board ultimately kicked the issue back to Meta who finally decided on a two year ban ending on January 7, 2023. When the ban ended, Meta said it would “look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded,” before reinstating his account.
Now, the day of reckoning approacheth. Sources speaking with the Financial Times earlier this month said Meta would make its decision in the coming weeks, by the end of January. When it does, its decision, either to reinstate or prolong the ban, is pretty much guaranteed to leave your social media feeds overridden with politically charged vitriol.
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