How the Trump Social-Media Ban Paid Off for Trump, Platforms

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A year after being removed from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, the former president is making money on campaigning and planning his own social-media company.

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Across all platforms, Mr Trump had amassed nearly 150 million followers – including 3.5 million on Facebook and 8.8 million on Twitter – making him one of the world’s most-watched leaders.

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But for companies, banning their accounts hasn’t dented their traffic. Facebook and YouTube don’t report engagement for their specific units, but Twitter’s users continue to grow.

Since his social-media ban – just days before leaving the White House – mentions of Mr Trump on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have dropped by 88%, according to Jignal Labs, a company that analyzes content on social media.

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Mr Trump has become eager to restore his online presence and has announced plans to launch his own platform. But even without the social media tools that helped ignite his rapid political rise, Mr. Trump’s influence has remained strong and in some ways extended.

The ban has been a rallying point among supporters of the former president. And while Mr. Trump’s poll ratings remain more negative than positive, public opinion about the former branding magnate and reality TV star has improved significantly since he was removed from social media after his supporters-turned-politicians were accused of election fraud. Echoing his many false claims about the storm, the Capitol tried to reverse its electoral loss on January 6, 2021. Facebook, now known as Meta Platforms Inc. Said, suspended his account on January 7th and Twitter Inc. banned him on January 8th.

According to the FiveThirtyEight.com average of national polls, a year after the violent rioting at the Capitol, about 52% of Americans said they held an unfavorable view of Mr. Trump, compared to 43% who viewed him favorably. According to the same voting average, a 9-point gap in Mr. Trump’s favorability ratings compared to a nearly 20-point spread a year earlier.

Trump’s current and former aides said the change in popularity was largely due to the former president’s low social-media presence. His frequent, often provocative tweets helped excite supporters, but provided ammunition for his detractors relentlessly. During his time in office, even his most ardent supporters told voters they didn’t want Mr Trump to air every complaint and not respond to every criticism.

Most of the political headlines from social media sidelining Mr Trump have been President Biden, whose approval ratings have fallen sharply during the past year.

“I don’t know a single person in Trump’s world who would regret it happened — not even one,” said a Trump adviser.

Researchers studying social media said that removing influential social-media accounts that spread false narratives has reduced the popularity of some content on the platform that companies consider toxic, although many have also expressed concern that Tech companies get to make these. Decision.

Jonathan Morgan, chief executive of Yonder, a company that tracks online statements, said, “Removing a verified person with a media presence raised the stakes for the platform – it was their last stand against misinformation.”

Companies will face questions about reinstating the former president, especially if he decides to seek his party’s presidential nomination again in 2024. Facebook has said it will reconsider its decision in January 2023, but social-media executives have insisted their calculations have won out. Don’t be swayed by Mr. Trump’s political decisions. Trump is eager to announce a 2024 bid, according to aides, but advisers have so far persuaded him to wait until after the midterm election in November to make a formal decision.

While these companies have banned Mr Trump, they have continued to sell advertisements to him, as well as to his opponents and allies, who have made him a significant part of their political advertisements.

Facebook and Alphabet Inc. Of

According to ad tracking company AdImpact, Google has sold more than $2 million in ads to two of Trump’s political-action committees over the past year. There are various restrictions on ads from social-media companies, and some ban using footage of Mr Trump or recordings of his voice.

Still, more than 100 candidates, issues groups and political committees spent $11.5 million in 2021 on Facebook ads that mention Trump, according to AdImpact.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee spent more than $3.5 million on Facebook ads intended to raise money for the group by promoting Trump’s plans for a social-media venture. Several groups attempted to take advantage of Mr Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

“Is Trump the Real President?” Mr Trump’s political committee Save America asked in one place. “The 2020 election was potentially the most corrupt in the history of our country.”

Facebook has dismissed some of the Save America ads for violating its policies.

Mr Trump initially enjoyed his break from Twitter and relied on emailed statements edited by his press team.

“It’s actually better than Twitter because I don’t do stupid retweets that people don’t like—retweets are what get you,” Trump said in an interview for the book “Frankly, We Did Win” in March. Was. This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.” “And I saved a lot of time. I didn’t know you could spend a lot of time on this. Now I actually have time to make phone calls, and do other things and read papers I won’t read. And with me, if I put a comma out of place or accidentally misspelled a word, it was like the world coming down.”

But recently, Mr Trump has been keen to restore his social-media presence, his advisers said. Aides said they proudly compared their wide followers with foreign leaders during private meetings of the Oval Office. During his four years in the White House, he never tired of seeing how quickly one of his Twitter posts would make headlines on cable networks and news websites with the tips of his fingers.

He sued the tech companies in July, complaining that they were unfairly censored. In October, Mr Trump announced a new digital-media venture aimed at restoring his online following. Part of that effort will be the creation of Truth Social, a social network being developed by Trump Media & Technology Group and Digital World Acquisitions. Corporation

, a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. The launch date of the platform is unclear.

Prior to their January 2021 ban, the companies had been battling for months to counter baseless allegations of Mr Trump’s plagiarism and how to moderate the then-president’s content for the 2020 presidential elections. For example, Twitter repeatedly labeled or removed Mr Trump’s content that the company deemed to incite violence or spread misinformation about the election.

Longtime campaign aides Brad Parscale and Gary Coby feared that social-media companies would limit the reach of Trump, whose first campaign relied heavily on Facebook data to trace and target supporters. He and Republican National Committee Chairman Ronna McDaniel oversaw a multimillion-dollar effort to create a list of email and phone numbers for supporters so that the campaign would directly contact them with fundraising appeals, voter-voting events, and statements. could contact.

According to people familiar with the matter, the list now includes about 50 million emails. According to people familiar with the effort, Mr Trump has bolstered the list with a relentless fundraising event over the past year, which has raised more than $56 million in online donations during the first half of 2021 and almost as much in the second half. has collected. The fundraising committee’s year-end financial report is not due until the end of the month.

Write Michael C. Bender at [email protected] and Georgia Wells at [email protected]

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