WASHINGTON | Former US President Donald Trump, one of the most skilled politicians on social media, built up a huge following on major platforms before being abruptly banned.
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While Facebook’s independent supervisory board is due to decide on Wednesday whether the former US president can return or not, here are the key milestones in his often tumultuous relationship with social media.
At the time of his suspension, Donald Trump had more than 88 million followers on Twitter and 35 million on Facebook. He used his personal accounts more than official accounts, even for making political statements.
His detractors accuse the former president of having repeatedly violated the rules of platforms on hate content without really undergoing moderation until the last months of his presidency.
He himself blocked people who criticized him on Twitter, which sparked legal action. In 2019, a court ruled that his personal account was indeed a “public forum” to allow all voices to be expressed.
Until last year, major social networks had largely rejected calls to remove Mr. Trump’s often inflammatory or deceptive posts, saying that even if he broke the rules, his comments should remain available for the public to see. form their own opinion on their political statements.
The American leader has not ceased to vilify the dominant platforms, often accusing them of being politically oriented. But he also invited Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to a private dinner at the White House in 2019, raising suspicions about the billionaire’s supposed preferential treatment by the social media giant.
In 2020, Facebook and Twitter began applying warning notices to certain messages from Donald Trump.
Last June Facebook, for example, removed an ad from Donald Trump that used a Nazi symbol, the inverted triangle. The social network also deleted one of its comments where it said that the United States had “learned to live” with the seasonal flu, “in the same way that we learn to live with the Covid”, suggesting that the latter was “much less deadly”.
Twitter hid the post, forcing users to click to view it.
The other major platforms have also gradually strengthened their moderation of the former head of state.
Things go wrong
After much procrastination during the presidential campaign, in which Mr. Trump was seen as a major source of disinformation, major platforms have taken more decisive action following the rampage of his supporters during the invasion of the Capitol on January 6.
“The shocking events of the past 24 hours make it clear that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time to undermine the peaceful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his page Facebook. Twitter has taken the same path, but founder Jack Dorsey has admitted some responsibility for letting the situation escalate.
“Banning an account has real and significant consequences,” Dorsey said in a series of tweets about his decision to permanently ban Donald Trump.
While defending the billionaire’s suspension, the Twitter boss admitted it represented a “failure” and set a “dangerous precedent”.