Returning to the White House, Donald Trump seeks to regain control of his powerful social media accounts.
With access to his Twitter account back, the Trump campaign is formally asking Facebook’s parent company to unlock his account there after it was locked in response to the riots at the US Capitol two years ago. .
“We believe that the ban on President Trump’s Facebook account has dramatically distorted and inhibited public discourse,” the Trump campaign wrote in its letter to Meta on Tuesday, according to a copy reviewed by NBC News.
The Trump campaign did not threaten a lawsuit, as some sources close to Trump thought it would. Instead, he spoke about the importance of free speech and asked Meta for a «meeting to discuss President Trump’s prompt reinstatement to the platform.»
A spokesperson for Meta He declined to comment on Trump beyond saying the company «will announce a decision in the coming weeks in line with the process we’ve laid out.»
Facebook and Twitter banned Trump a day after a mob of his supporters, many of whom admitted in federal court that they were incited by his lies about a stolen election, stormed the Capitol and interfered with Congress as it counted the votes. electoral. certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory in 2020.
Facebook ultimately decided to institute a limited ban on Trump that would be reviewed after two years, effective January 7 of this year.
Twitter planned a permanent ban, but new owner Elon Musk reinstated Trump’s account on November 19 and then criticized the company’s previous leadership for the ban.
Trump, however, has yet to tweet.
“Trump will probably return to Twitter. It’s just a matter of how and when,» said a Republican who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations with Trump about returning to the platform. «He’s been talking about it for weeks, but Trump speaks for Trump, so anyone can guess what he’ll do or say or when.»
Another Trump confidante who also did not want to be named when speaking about conversations with him said Trump has been seeking information for weeks about returning to Twitter and that his campaign advisers have also been working on ideas for his first tweet.
Some aides said Trump may be limited in posting to other social media platforms now that he has founded his own, called Truth Social. Truth Social declined to comment on the alleged limits, and a Trump spokesperson said the campaign believes it will be able to return to Twitter as before.
Another Trump adviser, who spoke to him about Facebook and shared the gist of the private conversation with NBC News on condition of anonymity, said his campaign believes Facebook will eventually honor the two-year ban and reinstate him, but is prepared to engage. with House Republicans who control the lower house of Congress to advocate on Trump’s behalf and pressure Meta. The adviser said Congress is likely to look at Section 230 of the federal law that affects social media companies.
«If Facebook wants to have this fight, that’s fine, but the House has influence and keeping Trump off Facebook just seems political,» the adviser said, noting that House Democrats like Adam Schiff of California told Facebook the last month to keep Trump off the platform. .
“Trump has continued to post harmful election content on Truth Social that would likely violate Facebook policies, and we have every reason to believe he would bring similar conspiracy rhetoric to Facebook, given the chance,” Schiff wrote in a statement. letter to Meta signed by three Democratic colleagues.
Trump’s plans to expand his social media presence also speak to the limits of Truth Social’s reach. Trump has just over 4.8 million followers on the platform, compared with nearly 88 million on Twitter and 34 million on Facebook.
Twitter and Facebook were the double whammy of Trump’s pugilistic campaign style.
Facebook was crucial to Trump’s success in 2016, when his campaign used computer programming to tailor ads to viewer data, known as microtargeting, helping him raise money from small donors and out-messaging Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign. An internal Facebook report found that Trump ran 5.9 million different versions of ads, compared to 66,000 for Clinton. according to to Bloomberg news.
But Facebook later changed its rules, including a limitation on high-volume advertising and the Trump campaign protested. An employee of the 2016 and 2020 Trump campaigns who was not authorized to speak publicly said the changes limited the Trump organization’s ability to use Facebook in the same way it did in 2016.
Twitter was credited with complicity in Trump’s political rise, but his easygoing style seemed unhinged even to many Republicans who began to object to your use of Twitter.
In its report on the riots on Capitol Hill, the House committee on January 6 repeatedly noted that Trump used Twitter to call people to Washington, DC, saying, «Be there, you’re going to be wild!» After his supporters ransacked the Capitol, according to the report, Trump initially refused to use his Twitter account to tell them to leave, instead criticizing Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to help void the election, angering him. even more to the mafia.
The next day, Twitter banned Trump permanently. facebook too instituted its ban that day.
“The shocking events of the past 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and legal transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” the CEO said. of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. wrotedenouncing that Trump’s «decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters in the Capitol building has rightly disturbed people in the US and around the world.»
“We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect, and probably their intent, would be to provoke more violence,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Zuckerberg also noted that Trump had violated Facebook’s rules over the years, but that Meta had responded by removing or labeling the posts as violations, rather than banning it, because «the public has a right to the widest possible access to political speech.» even controversial. speech.»
«But the current context is now fundamentally different, and involves the use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,» he said.
facebook then referred the ban on his independent Supervisory Board, which confirmed it but criticized the company for «the open nature» of the suspension, calling it an «indeterminate sanction and without standards» in a company statement issued on May 5, 2021 by Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg. On June 4, Clegg Announced two-year provisional suspension.
“At the end of this period, we will seek experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has diminished,” Clegg wrote at the time. “We will assess external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly, and other indicators of civil unrest. If we determine that a serious risk to public safety still exists, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to reassess until that risk has abated.»
The Trump campaign noted that time has passed and, in its letter, quoted Clegg as saying in October that «any private company … should exercise great consideration when seeking to basically silence political voices.»
«We agree,» the Trump campaign wrote in the letter to Clegg, Zuckerberg and Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy.
“We also believe that a continued ban would essentially constitute, in the words of Mr. Clegg, a deliberate effort by a private company to silence Mr. Trump’s political voice,” the Trump campaign wrote. “In addition, every day that the political voice of President Trump remains muted encourages inappropriate interference in the American political and electoral process.”