On Wednesday morning, the oversight board for Facebook and Instagram announced the decision of the review of Donald Trump’s accounts. And that decision is that he’s still banned. The oversight board found that posts Trump made on Jan. 6 “severely violated ” site standards by “maintaining an unfounded narrative of electoral fraud” and by “persistent calls to action” at a time when a violent revolt was underway in Washington, D.C.
There is still some “win” for Trump in this decision, as the board declared the permanent injunction against Trump’s account “not appropriate.” Facebook will review this review of their earlier review, and come up with a new response within six months.
Still, it is at least a little heartening to see that Facebook didn’t immediately fold to the mega-clicks that could be generated by returning Trump to their platform. That’s especially impressive in light of how Trump rolled out his own new platform on Tuesday to demonstrate that he is capable of generating an innovative, powerful new media that leaves Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in the dust. This media doesn’t limit Trump to some arbitrary number of characters, or burden his words with indecorous comments. It simply allows Trump to be Trump, at any length he chooses.
That’s right. On Tuesday, Donald Trump invented the blog. Which no one has ever done before.
Trump’s “From the desk of Donald J. Trump” blog isn’t just any blog. It draws from the best blog traditions from the days before they were spoiled by advanced technology like Typepad or Blogger. Trump’s invention reaches back to the firm tradition of Geocities, when web pages were real web pages, and no one would think about posting without donning a tricornered hat and tapping on the keyboard with a quill pen.
Despite being free of such distractions as comments or any ability for someone else to post a word, Trump’s platform is not without one saucy modern innovation. There is a “like” button for each missive Trump posts to his page so that minions may express their approval. Just know that once that button is pressed, it cannot be unpressed—not that anyone would try.
It wasn’t just Trump’s clearly superior platform that failed to result in immediate reinstatement for Trump. If the oversight board’s action seems like a “punt” (because it is), it was a punt made in the face of ongoing threats from Republicans. The immediate response to the decision was an outrage session on Fox News in which Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, warned that Congress is considering breaking up Facebook, and the always unreasonable Charlie Kirk suggested that the action of the Facebook oversight board should be appealed to the Supreme Court. Because apparently that’s how things work now.
There have been suggestions that Trump might buy out a platform like the underperforming right-wing chat site Parler, the underperforming audio chat site Clubhouse, or any of a number of sites that have the traffic levels of Six Flags in the off season. Considering the $21 million Trump bilked from supporters during the “stop the steal” fiasco, he might assemble an entire right-wing Voltron of discarded and half-dead sites to line up against the social media giants. Only all these suggestions seem to involve the word “buy.” Like … with money. That doesn’t seem to be part of Trump’s plans.
For now, Facebook’s oversight committee has kicked the can down the road for a few more months. Republicans will use the interim period to fume, sue, and say “First Amendment” a lot. But it seems inevitable that eventually Facebook will let Trump back on.
Say, just in time to sell political ads for the 2022 cycle.