No, Donald Trump hasn’t been muzzled, even with a Twitter ban. Get real.
Yes Twitter, where Trump boasts of nearly 90 million followers, did bar him from continuing to use its platform. Finally. Social media critics who have been up in arms about Trump’s use of Twitter to bully, vent and incite violence were thrilled. Count me in that camp.
But trust me, this week’s Facebook Trump ban is a way bigger deal.
The Social Network, after years of critics demanding that it put a curb on what Trump could say on Facebook, finally said the Jan. 6 “insurrection” was too much, and that it wouldn’t allow Trump to continue using its platform, (Facebook or company owned Instagram) at least through the inauguration.
Yes, Trump will forever be associated with his tweets, where he opined, whined and fired people in 256 characters. But let’s remember folks: Facebook is used by over 2 billion people. Twitter’s audience is just over 166 million daily users, a fraction of what Facebook sees.
You’ve probably read that Trump’s Twitter base is huge, like at 88 million, which is almost as large as the entire population of Iran, or a third larger than the population of France. Trump 90 million on a network with 166 million users. You buying this?
No, 90 million people do not see Trump’s tweets, any more than the nearly 25,000 people who follow me see my latest posts. Some do. If they happen to be tuned into Twitter at the time, or go to the bother of putting me in a Twitter list and checking it every day.
Trump’s worldwide audience consists of fans, media, world leaders and tons and tons of bots. I bet a good half of his following don’t even exist. When Trump tweeted, he did get the word out, surely. But that’s because all those media accounts were tuned in to read them and re-post as soon as they came in.
As I write this, there is a movement to impeach Trump, to basically silence him and try to make him go away. Several TV commentators said taking away his Twitter is a huge step towards shutting him up.
There’s always another Twitter account, another social media platform to go to.
Until they all pull the plug.
What’s really at play here is an effort, which you’ll either agree with or not, of social media, in concert, seizing the moment they’ve been waiting for to get rid of the Trump headache.
Remember when Alex Jones and his InfoWars was big? Then he got banned by basically everybody, and he lost his voice.
Trump has been welcomed to move his account to Parler, a social network for conservatives that unfortunately has been hit with misinformation and conspiracy theories.
I don’t think Parler is long for this world. Google announced Friday that it was removing Parler from the Google Play store, where Android phone users (Samsung, LG, Pixel) go to download apps. Google said the ban was due to the lack of moderation policies “and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence.”
Apple said it was looking at doing the same for the iTunes store. No Google, no Apple, no Parler app. No mobile phone use. Period.
Shopify, a website that helps companies sell merchandise online, announced that it was discontinuing its association with some pro-Trump clients. Amazon-owned Twitch also ditched Trump, saying he was using the network favored by gamers to incite violence. Snapchat locked Trump’s account. And there will be more.
But social media still has a ways to go. Trump’s YouTube channel features a highlighted video of him complaining that he indeed won the 2020 election, which is not the case, and YouTube is happy to leave it up. It has over 5.7 million views. (YouTube—what are you waiting for?)
Trump liked Twitter because it was an un-filtered way to get out his message. There are other ways. My advice, should he be asking—how about a nice newsletter? It’s one to one, from me to your inbox.
And no filters.
It will take time to build an audience, but Donnie, you’ve got nothing but time shortly, right?
Tweet of the week
This is how I spent my first post-USA TODAY Act III week. And it was glorious.
Meet the parents
Here’s one more clip from Michelle’s USA TODAY exit interview with me, where she surprised me by asking about the influence of my parents. What an amazing gift! I got to tell their story, again (always happy to oblige) and illustrate it with photos and clips from the archives.
Did you know that my mom created the sweater for Freddy Kruger? Or that they used to call my pop “Yosemite Jerry?” I’ve got more, directly below. Please click the link and take a look.
And for next time
I’ll be back at you Monday with a preview of the CES, the yearly electronics show in Las Vegas that this year has gone virtual. How’s that going to work? I’ll tell you all shortly.
P.S.: I’ve been writing a Saturday column for more years than I can remember, most recently for USA TODAY. And I see no reason to stop now!
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