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Why Donald Trump Was Desperate to Get Back on Facebook

Donald Trump speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Donald Trump speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

Why Donald Trump Wants Back on Facebook – You thought he was banned from mainstream social media.

Well, not anymore.

If you haven’t heard, Donald Trump has been re-instated on Meta – the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. He had previously been allowed back on Twitter by new owner Elon Musk, but Trump has his own Twitter-clone called Truth Social that he would rather stay on than tweet.

Trump’s future activity on Meta will be governed closely by content “guardrails” to keep him from inciting violence or furthering conspiracy theories and other misinformation that he has been accused of by opponents and social media companies.

Donald Trump Has a Meta Overlord

The main content moderator on Facebook and Instagram will be former British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. Clegg is now the president of global affairs for Meta. Clegg has warned Donald Trump that disapproved content can be met with blockage from showing on a user’s feed or that the reshare button will become unavailable if Trump transgresses.

Calling Balls and Strikes

Clegg will be watching for Facebook and Instagram posts that “delegitimizes” a future election or amplifies conspiracy content from cults like QAnon.

Some social media watchers believe that Donald Trump has done just that on Truth Social, and the former president may try to extend these messages on Meta platforms.

Meta hopes that Trump will mind his manners. Community rules say that posts “calling for, or making statements of intent to engage in, bullying and/or harassment,” violate standards.

Content Guardrails May Not Satisfy Anyone

This likely means both left and right will be chagrined with Trump’s actions on Facebook and Instagram, with conservatives believing Trump will be censored and liberals thinking that Trump is up to the same tricks that could lead to acts of violence and a repeat of the January 6 insurrection.

Let’s Try Free Speech Again

Clegg said that Meta’s decision to allow Trump back on social is because of free speech. People “should be able to hear what their politicians are saying,” Clegg maintained.

Clegg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg want to keep Meta’s commitment to providing a global public square for discourse with “open debate and free flow of ideas.”

If Trump violates terms of service, he could be suspended again from one month to two years, Clegg said.

Fundraising Bonanza

It’s not clear when Donald Trump wants to return to Meta.

He has around 57 million followers on Facebook and Instagram. He can tap those connections to raise money at a high rate not seen since he leveraged Meta to rake in the dough in 2019 and 2020 during his loss to Joe Biden and in 2015 and 2016 for his election win against Hillary Clinton.

Truth Social Has Little Clout

Trump has only around 4.5 million followers on Truth Social and the network has struggled to break through. The Pew Research Institute conducted a study last fall that looked at alternative social networks used by the right. Pew said only 27 percent of American adults have heard of Truth Social and just two percent get their news from the app. By comparison, brand recognition for Facebook is near universal and 31 percent of Facebook users find news sources on that network.

Almost $100 Million in Ads In Just a Few Months in 2020

Trump needs Facebook for advertising so his followers can give money and vote. The Trump campaign spent $89.1 million in Facebook ads from April to November in 2020. So, you can see that Meta brings in the bucks during election cycles from the former president.

He Must Post on Truth Social First

Donald Trump has a contract with Truth Social that means he must make social media posts on that app first before he can submit content to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others. That agreement expires in June.

While Trump’s posts on social media can infuriate, shock, insult, hype, cajole, and bully, they are rarely boring. He will be able to reach more eyeballs with his missives and that is what his campaign needs if he is to retake the White House. Get ready for the left and right to be outraged over Meta’s refereeing of the coming storm of posts and ads. Trump watchers are sure to eat it up.

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Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.