How the boycott against Trump on social media paid off for both him and them

For an entire year, Donald Trump was banned from the major social networks. Technology companies and the former president, have found benefits in this situation.

Business-wise, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube could all say they took action against one of the most powerful voices on their platforms – after years of being criticized for not aggressively enforcing their rules on the most recognizable users.

On all platforms, Trump has garnered some 150 million followers – including 35 million on Facebook and 88 million on Twitter – making him one of the most-followed global leaders. But blocking his accounts did not hurt the companies’ Internet traffic. Facebook and YouTube did not report their involvement data, but the number of Twitter users continued to climb.

Since being blocked on social media – just days before he left the White House – Trump’s mentions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have dropped by 88%, according to Zignal Labs, a company that analyzes social media content.

Trump wants to recreate his online presence and has announced plans to launch his own platform, but even without the social networks that helped drive his rapid political rise, Trump’s influence has remained strong and in some ways even increased.

Rising Trump popularity

The ban against him was something that supporters of the former president could unite around. And while polls on Trump remain largely negative, public opinion of him has greatly improved since he was expelled from social media after his supporters – who reiterated his claim of election fraud – stormed Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, seeking to reverse his loss. Facebook, now called Meta Platforms, suspended its account the next day, January 7, and Twitter removed it on January 8.

A year after the Capitol violence riots, about 52 percent of Americans said they had a negative opinion of Trump compared to 43 percent who had a positive opinion of him, according to FiveThirtyEight.com, a site that presents an average of national-level polls. A year earlier, the gap between the two opinions was almost 20%, according to the same website.

Trump aides today and in the past say the change in popularity happened largely because of his absence from social media. His incessant and often controversial tweets excited his supporters but also gave ammunition to his opponents on a regular basis. During his tenure, even his staunchest supporters told pollsters that they would prefer that Trump never broadcast any dissatisfaction and respond to every word of criticism against him.

Lowering Trump to the fringes of social media has allowed the political spotlight to focus on President Joe Biden, whose support rate has fallen sharply in the past year.

“I do not know any person in the world of Trump who regrets that this happened – not one,” said one adviser to the former president.

Researchers specializing in social media have said that removing prominent accounts that spread false narratives on social media has diminished the popularity of content on networks that companies define as toxic, although many people have also expressed concern about the fact that technology companies have such a strong influence on discourse.

“Removing a person who has been authenticated and has a prominent media presence has raised the stakes in terms of these platforms – this is their most extreme stance against misinformation,” said Jonathan Morgan, CEO of Yonder, a company that follows narratives on social media.

Companies will have to deal with the question of reviving the former president’s accounts, especially if he decides to try to get the Republican-led nomination in the 2024 election. Facebook said it would reconsider its January 2023 decision, but social media executives insist their calculations will not be influenced by political decisions That Trump may accept or reject. Trump wants to run in 2024, his associates say, but in the meantime his advisers have persuaded him to wait until after the mid-November elections to make a formal decision.

While these companies eliminated Trump’s profile, they continued to sell him advertisements, and so did his rivals and allies who made him a central part of their propaganda.

Facebook and Google (from Alphabet) have sold more than $ 2 million in advertisements to the two political committees that support Trump in the past year, according to AdImpact, a company that monitors online propaganda. Various social networks have imposed various restrictions on the content of their advertisements, and in some it has been forbidden to show Trump photos or play recordings of his voice.

Still, more than 100 candidates, specific charities and political committees spent $ 11.5 million on 2021 Facebook ads mentioning Trump, according to AdImpact data.

The Republican National Senate Council has spent more than $ 3.5 million on Facebook ads designed to raise money for the organization by promoting Trump’s plan to establish a social network. Several other organizations have tried to leverage Trump’s erroneous claims about the election fraud.

“Is Trump the real president?” The organization Save America asked in one of its advertisements, “The 2020 elections were perhaps the most corrupt in the history of our country.” Facebook rejected some of Save America’s advertisements because they violated its policies.

Trump is starting to miss followers

Initially, Trump enjoyed his break from Twitter and relied on e-mails made by his media team.

“It’s really better than Twitter because I do not do the silly retweets that people do not like. Retweeters are what knocks you out,” Trump said in an March interview to tell “Honestly, we won this election: the inside story about how Trump lost.” “And I save a lot of time. I did not imagine that you could spend so much time on it. Now I really have time to make phones, and do things and read newspapers that I would not read. And with me, if I put a comma out of place or spell a word incorrectly, it’s like The end of the world has come. ”

But recently it has been felt that Trump wants to return to his place in the networks, his advisers say. He proudly compared the number of his followers to the number of followers of other foreign world leaders in private meetings in the Oval Office, say aides. In his four years at the White House, he has never been bored to see how quickly his tweets on Twitter take off from his fingertips to headlines on cable networks and news sites.

In July he sued the technology companies, complaining that he had been censored unfairly. In October, Trump announced a new digital initiative designed to restore the amount of followers on the network. Part of the effort is the establishment of Truth Social, a social network developed by Trump’s communications and technology group and by the SPAC Digital World Acquisition Corp. The launch date of the new social network is not yet known.

Before his boycott in January 2021, social networking companies struggled for months to fight his baseless allegations of election theft and faced the challenge of policing the content the president posted ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Thought they were inciting violence or disseminating misinformation about the election.

Veteran campaign aides like Brad Prescale and Gary Kobe feared that social networking companies would limit the scope of Trump’s influence, whose first campaign relied heavily on Facebook data to locate and contact supporters. They and both Republican National Council Chairman Rona McDaniel oversaw a multi-million-dollar initiative to establish a list of e-mail addresses and phone numbers through which campaign supporters can contact them directly with funding requests, plans to increase voter turnout and send propaganda material.

There are currently about 50 million e-mail addresses on the list, said people familiar with the subject. Trump relied on this list last year in a fundraising program that managed to raise more than $ 56 million in online donations in the first half of 2021, and a similar amount in the second half, people familiar with the program said. The financial statements of this fundraiser for the entire year will be published only at the end of January.

By Editor

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