Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at three of the biggest tech giants after Facebook’s quasi-independent Oversight Board upheld the social media platform’s ban on him.
“What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country,” Trump said in a statement.
“Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before,” he continued. “The People of our Country will not stand for it! These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”
Oversight Board director: Facebook was right to deplatform Trump, but the rules did not apply Trump also began fundraising off of the Facebook announcement, texting supporters with a link to donate to his joint fundraising committee Save America. The webpage said, “President Trump is still BANNED from Facebook! Ridiculous! We are handing him a Donor List with the names of EVERY PATRIOT who publicly stood with THEIR PRESIDENT when the Left came after him. If you step up in the NEXT 10 MINUTES, we’ll make sure your name is the FIRST name on the list. Please contribute ANY AMOUNT IMMEDIATELY to stand with President Trump and to get your name at the TOP of the Official Donor List!”
The social media company banned Trump from using its platforms — Facebook and Instagram — the day after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The board said Wednesday that Trump “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible” by maintaining a narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, tweeted: “Our right to freedom of speech comes from the Constitution, not Facebook’s 'Oversight Board.' Big Tech has become an extension of the left’s woke mob and Congress should hold them accountable.”
Donald Trump will have to stick to written statements and media appearances to raise money and spread his messages – social media is broadly still not an option, at least for now.
The Facebook Oversight Board's decision to uphold the site's ban on Trump deprives the ex-president of a long-range megaphone and an effective fundraising machine, elements that would be central to Trump-backed campaigns in the 2022 congressional races and, perhaps, the 2024 presidential race.
"Should he decide to run again in 2024, it will make it difficult for him to mount a cheap online campaign – as he has done in the past – and make it difficult for him to gain new supporters," said Jennifer Mercieca, a political communication specialist at Texas A&M University.
Trump and aides indicated they would follow through on plans to start a social media platform but provided few details. They expect Twitter and other social media platforms to follow Facebook's lead and maintain their bans on Trump as well.
In a written statement after the Facebook decision, Trump called the social media bans "a total disgrace," and he threatened vengeance on the private companies. He claimed free speech had been taken away from him, because the political left is "afraid of the truth."
"The truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before," he said.
Trump's allies have vowed to make "Big Tech" a major political issue. "These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price," he said, though he wasn't specific about what that should be.
Trump can play the victim all he wants, analysts said, but Facebook had little choice but to keep him offline, given his constant violation of its rules.
Republicans on Wednesday expressed outrage over news that Donald Trump’s Facebook suspension would remain in place for the time being. Privately, many of them, including some close to the former president, were panicked.
The ruling by the Facebook oversight board meant that Trump would remain off the platform for the foreseeable future and, perhaps, well beyond should the company make the ban permanent. In practical terms, the main driver of Republican Party enthusiasm would be less omnipresent in voters’ lives — a reality that sparked fear for some GOP operatives. As for Trump, he would remain without one of the great money-raising spigots in all of politics as his political operation geared up for a possible 2024 run.
“This is a huge decision, makes it infinitely harder for him to raise money,” conceded a person close to the Trump operation. “Facebook was the main way he raised money. He’s now going to have to spend far more in the future to find other ways to raise money … It was the main way he found donors.”
Trump’s official line in response to the ruling showed no concern over the financial ramifications of it, though some anxiety about how it could impact his ability to communicate with his hordes of followers. He accused Facebook, Twitter, and Google of taking away his free speech, called them “corrupt” and demanded that they “pay a political price.”
But it was clear that money matters were on his team’s mind. Shortly after the official statement was released, the Trump operation blasted out a text message to its list calling the Facebook ban “NONSENSE” but also asking for money. “I want a list of all donors sent to my office,” the text read.
Not everyone in the party felt that Trump would end up in a worse place because of the continued Facebook ban. The president still has one of the biggest email lists in politics even if it will atrophy without access to the country’s largest social media platforms. And in the tech industry, he has a bête noire to rail against. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the Facebook decision would ultimately help Trump by making him a tech “martyr.”
“Do you want a communist Chinese style control over your voice or American style openness? We’ll see whether Biden sides with the Chinese communists or with the American people,” Gingrich said.
Elsewhere, Republicans argued that keeping Trump off Facebook would be good for the party, even if (or perhaps because) it would be “devastating” for Trump.
“It makes it more difficult for him and it gives everyone from Tim Scott to Nikki Haley to Mike Pompeo to Ted Cruz the ability to go out and begin to win over the Trump donors and voters that exist in a vacuum that Trump is not filling,” said one top GOP operative.