For now, the White House is considering early pressure on Monday against Twitter and other technology giants, blasting it for stifling the president’s ability to reach supporters while calling for new regulation against Silicon Valley, according to someone familiar with the issue. subject to anonymity. Trump, who is apoplectic with his ban, plans to spend the last days of his term in office, enclosing the industry, the man said.
Yet Trump’s threats also underscore his reliance on social media sites themselves, which he has long ignored for alleged political bias. On Twitter, the outgoing president often used his more than 88 million followers to savage his rivals, strengthen his allies, and sometimes spread fakes on a viral scale.
This extensive online reach offers Trump an online megaphone that has no analogue in American politics. But his rhetoric was also vitriolic ̵
Now the president and his allies face the formidable technical and logistical challenge of moving to a new social network or setting up their own online center, which is likely to be much smaller than the large audience that Trump enjoyed until recently. Switching from mass platforms would mean retreating to more isolated conservative communities and threatening to sharpen guerrilla divisions in a country that Trump has already left on the brink.
“For more casual supporters of the president, I think they will receive his messages less often,” said Emerson T. Brooking, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who studies issues, including misinformation.
“Obviously he will have millions of hardcore supporters tuned to broadcast sources who still carry his messages, or [they will] go to whatever online space they occupy … but it will be a smaller, more dedicated group, “Brooking said, expressing concerns that they could become” extremely radicalized. “
Trump’s removal from Twitter came as part of a wider reliance late Friday on much of the mass network as technology giants, including Apple, Facebook and Google, took unprecedented steps to discipline apps, users and accounts. seen as a tool to encourage violence that left lawmakers locked up earlier in the week.
Before banning Trump, Twitter removed many users associated with QAnon, a prominent conspiracy theory. Ownership of Google YouTube has stopped channels linked to Stephen K. Bannon, a former Trump campaign manager. Both Apple and Google have removed Parler, a pro-Trump app where users have threatened further violence, from their smartphone software download portals. Apple announced its move late Saturday, saying the app was suspended until it improved its content moderation practices.
The actions reflect a new force by Silicon Valley to punish those who disseminated harmful content, from election misinformation to hate speech and violent threats. Congressional lawmakers, digital researchers and human rights groups praised the moves this week, although they described them as too few, too late, nearing the end of Trump’s term.
But the bans represent a digital slaughter in the eyes of Trump’s conservative allies, many of whom describe them as censorship.
One of Trump’s best allies, Senator Lindsay O. Graham (RS.C.), has vowed to be “more determined than ever” to try to end legal protections on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. accusing them of censorship. Limbau deleted his Twitter account, and fellow radio host Mark Levin also announced that he would leave, encouraging users to do the same. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., posted a widely watched Facebook video warning supporters that it was only a matter of time before social media companies would “inevitably throw us off the platforms they heavily censor and regulate in only one way.” . He asked Trump supporters to sign up for alerts on his website.
“I’ll let you know where I end up, my father ends up where we can go to continue this,” Trump Jr. said.
On Friday, Trump threatened to step down from a new social network that served almost immediately after Twitter banned him, promising “he won’t shut up!” – and promising a “big message soon.” More than any other social service, the loss of Twitter seems like a personal person: Trump was obsessed with the platform and he loved posting tweets and how long it would take to get attention on television. He often pulled out his phone and said, “Watch this, bing bing bing,” a senior administration official recalled. And Trump will regularly tell senators, world leaders and others about his most popular publications, scrolling through his mentions of feedback and ideas.
The White House on Saturday declined to comment on the president’s plans or timing.
However, Trump’s team is already flooded with demands for him to join their alternative social networks – and his emissaries have entertained conversations with other companies. But Trump has told his allies that he prefers to launch his services, according to two aides who warned it could be impossible and costly. He also plans to crack down on lawmakers in the coming days by failing to repeal section 230, a provision of federal law that saves technology giants responsibility for content posted by their users. Such a repeal could affect Trump, some experts say, leading to his removal from Twitter earlier.
Parscale, his former campaign manager, encouraged the president to strike alone on Saturday. “I believe that the best way for POTUS is to use its own application to talk to its followers,” he said. If Apple or Google block the service, Parskale added, Trump has “a clear path to a victorious lawsuit against them.”
Even before the Capitol uprising led to its suspension, Trump had weighed in on other social media services. In the summer of 2019, Trump aides in the White House and others in his re-election campaign discussed joining Parler, according to two acquaintances who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe personal conversations. Trump even invited Parler’s chief executive to the White House as part of a wider social media summit this summer, where he blew up Silicon Valley over unproven allegations that they are censoring conservatives online.
A locked private account named @realDonaldTrump – the same username the president once had on Twitter – appears to have fallen asleep on the site since June. The president’s campaign – under Team Trump’s account – also has an active Parler account dating back to 2018. On Saturday, Team Trump’s account announced about 3 million followers with posts in which Twitter was damaged for the president’s censorship. Parler did not respond to a request for comment.
Another conservative online center, Gab, turned to Twitter to reveal that it was planning a “big conversation with someone very special” on Saturday. The company did not mention Trump or anyone else’s name, but later posted a post on Twitter mentioning the president’s talks with potentially new social services that fuel speculation.
Like other pro-Trump online communities, Gab deviates from much of Silicon Valley by avoiding aggressive use against content that critics see as harmful, dangerous, and violent. Asked about Gab’s tweet, the company’s CEO Andrew Torba responded with an insult and otherwise declined to comment. Gab later tweeted Saturday that “threats of violence have no place” on the site, noting that there are “tens of thousands of volunteers watching it.”
Several advisers said they believe Trump is unlikely to join a facility like Parler quickly because he believes it has no effect. Earlier this year, the president himself also told campaign aides, the White House and the Republican National Committee that he would have his own platform, but repeatedly declined to name it, saying it would come “soon.” .
But the president will also face the daunting task of building his own social network, which can be an expensive, time-consuming endeavor. Social media sites are attractive to users only insofar as they manage to capture a large number of them and their friends. Trump may struggle to incubate such an audience given the overtly political nature of his digital venture, some experts say.
“It’s very difficult to build a new network,” said Yochai Benkler, co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. “Maybe it’s so big and important that it could get millions of people to join a network. The economy will make it much more island and domestic. … Networks take advantage of the opportunity for people to reach many different people. “
But Trump’s drive to regain his online reach – securing a prominent voice as he prepares to step down as president – marks only the latest efforts by Republicans to serve as their own security guards. The party and its allies dominated the radio, beginning in the late 1980s, turning their attention to cable news in the 1990s and, in recent years, raising a wide range of websites operating under the banner of conservative news. According to experts, social media is just the next frontier.
“The liberal bias of quoted and unquoted media is not just a statement, it is a self-acknowledged reality on the right,” said Lawrence Rosenthal, chairman of the Center for Right-Wing Research at the University of California, Berkeley, adding that many conservatives now see the same bias in Silicon Valley. “This is the current embodiment of something that has been taken for granted on the right for decades and decades.”