6 January will go down as the day America, that self-anointed paragon of democracy disintegrated and joined the naughty list of flawed banana republics. White Americans whipped into a frenzy by the many social media posts of the losing incumbent, Donald J Trump stormed the US Capitol to try and impede a democratic transfer of power. Facebook and most of the mainstream social media platforms kicked Trump off their platforms.
Facebook’s supreme court steps in
The matter was naturally referred to Facebook’s Oversight Board which is basically its supreme court. It’s also worth mentioning that Mark Zuckerberg the owner of Facebook is also terrified of the power his platform wields. Anyway, the “supreme court” agreed in part and dissented in part with Facebook’s action. They agreed that Donald J Trump, the world’s most powerful serial liar and agitator in chief had to be silenced. They questioned the wisdom of a permanent ban.
Now it seems Facebook has complied with the Oversight board’s findings. Trump will be banned for two years from the platform. The two-year clock started when he was kicked off on 6 January this year and will end on 6 January 2023. How they arrived at two years is beyond me. Apparently, it will be safe for Trump to return then. I am not sure I agree.
During his current sojourn in social media limbo, Trump’s usually venomous angry outbursts have failed to find traction even among his followers. To try and make himself relevant Trump created a blog called From the Desk of Donald Trump christening himself as a champion of freedom. The blog was formatted like Twitter and allow his followers to share these thoughts to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The blog failed to find traction and Donald Trump pulled the plug on it after just 29 days. And it now sits with a number of Trump’s other failed projects like Trump Airlines, Trump Steaks and Trumpnet, a telecommunications service that was launched in 1990 but abandoned in 1992.
However (and back to the blog), it was the tone of the messages he had to share that has me concerned. He is not even remorseful even though his words caused deaths in the real world and damaged America’s proud standing in our eyes. The tidbits on there were still laced with the usual vitriol and lies he and his supporters insist on calling alternative facts.
Back in time for the 2024 election
The unrepentant demagogue still insists he will be running again in the next U.S presidential election. His return to Facebook will be just in time for the next election which is in November of 2024. It’s not clear whether Trump will last long on Facebook though if he continues with his usual posts, which are often lies. He might be banned again for another two years or more.
It’s important to point out that while Trump will be welcomed back to Facebook he is still not welcome on Google Owned Platforms and remains permanently banned on Twitter. Also, he will be coming back to a different Facebook. The company has announced that politicians, the biggest liars in the world, will now have to play by the same rules as us serfs. Prior to this Trump and other world leaders had their own set of rules where they could bully and lie with little consequence.
Social media learning how to deal with politicians
It took time to get here but social media is slowly learning how to deal with politicians. Recently Mr Buhari, the president of Nigeria (he also ruled as a dictator before after a coup) had his Twitter suspended. The strongmen responded by arm twisting the country into blocking Twitter are false pretences.
You can expect similar incidents as African politicians who are used to controlling traditional state media grapple with the power of social media as well as the fact that they have to play by the rules which they often ignore domestically. Carving exceptions for themselves.