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How Trump is Losing his Social Media Platforms

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Mr Trump would of course still find ways to reach his followers without Facebook and Twitter. There would still be Fox News, Newsmax, OANN, and legions of pro-Trump partisans willing to republish its messages. Newspapers and cable news networks, which have long covered everything a president describes as inherently current, may not be able to resist giving Mr. Trump airtime and attention, even if he’s a private individual. And he has expressed interest in founding his own digital media empire in which he could set his own rules.

The transition of the president

Updated

Jan. 7, 2021, 4:01 p.m. ET

The most obvious short-term move for Mr. Trump after a Twitter and Facebook ban would be to switch to one of the “old platforms” like Parler and Gab, where many of his most passionate followers have gathered after being kicked out of more mainstream apps. (On Wednesday night, Gab’s chief executive Andrew Torba said he was “in the process of contacting President Trump’s team” to set up the president’s account.)

But these apps are small and culturally insular, and would likely fail to satisfy the president’s desire for a mass audience. Even if Mr Trump were to build his own social network, no other platform could offer him what Twitter and Facebook are currently doing: millions of eyeballs from across the political spectrum and a direct line to the deployment counters and control rooms of every news organization in the world.

David Kaye, a law professor and former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, said Thursday that Facebook made the right call to ban Mr Trump’s accounts until inauguration day. He added that even if Mr. Trump showed up on a different platform, it would likely be a diminished voice.

“So he goes to Parler. Who cares? “Mr. Kaye said.” The major platforms have already demonstrated the undeniable value of the network and go beyond the narrow confines of an affinity group. “

Mr Kaye pointed out that other media outlets like Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos struggled to stay relevant after losing their accounts. And without the presidency power behind him, Mr Trump could find himself just another commentator competing for attention in a crowded right-wing media ecosystem.

The permanent loss of his Twitter and Facebook accounts could even make Mr Trump less likely to become president again in 2024, an idea he reportedly spread in private conversations. After all, he would compete against Republicans with full postal privileges, who would have the advantage of making their message accessible to a less mainstream and less bipartisan audience.

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