Donald Trump is back on social media and no one knows what will happen next

This illustrative photo shows former President Donald Trump’s Facebook page on a smartphone screen in Los Angeles March 17, 2023.

Chris Delmas | AFP | Getty Images

On Friday, Donald Trump wrote a message on his messaging platform Truth Social recalling the final days of his presidency when his public posts resulted in his being kicked off Twitter. Facebook and YouTube.

When complaining a possible charge, Trump warned of “potential death and destruction” if charged with a crime. Trump was responding to recent developments in a hush money investigation and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office is leading the investigation.

After the January 6 attack on the Capitol more than two years ago, major US social networks banned Trump, citing his threatening rhetoric and the risk of further violence if he stayed on their platforms.

They have since welcomed him back.

In November, Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk said he was reactivating Trump’s account after conducting a straw poll asking his supporters if he should reinstate the ex-president, who is running for his old job again .

“People have spoken. Trump will be reinstated,” Musk wrote. He had hinted at the decision months earlier, saying at a conference in May that “permanent bans should be extremely rare and really reserved for accounts that are bots or scam or spam accounts,” adding, “It wasn’t right Donald to block Trump.”

Meta announced in late January that Trump would soon be allowed to return to Facebook and Instagram. Nick Clegg, Meta’s President of Global Affairs, wrote in a blog entry that “the public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad, and the ugly — so they can make informed decisions at the ballot box.”

And last Google’s YouTube said this month that Trump would be allowed to start posting videos again.

Now the question is – what are the rules from here?

So far, Trump has been relatively quiet on the major social media platforms. Rather, he sticks to his daily thoughts on Truth Social, writing in a post this week that Democrats are “INTERFERING IN OUR ELECTIONS, THEIR NEW FORM OF FRAUD!!”

He has not tweeted since January 8, 2021. Trump posted a few clips from his rallies and some fundraisers on Facebook. On YouTube, he has a new video from March 17, in which he announces to his 2.7 million subscribers: “I’m BACK!”

The companies that have punished Trump for his past antics have little reason to believe his behavior will change. His posts on Truth Social are littered with examples to the contrary. advocacy Responsible technique wrote in a recent report that it found over 350 Trump posts on Truth Social that violated Facebook’s security rules.

“He uses Truth Social to goad people,” he said Jessica Gonzalez, Co-CEO of media and tech advocacy organization Free Press. She said his posts there “remind her in a way of what he said before January 6th.”

Prior to Meta’s recovery of Trump’s Facebook account, Free Press sent a letter to the company, which is calling on it to “permanently impose Meta’s ban on former President Donald Trump.” The letter cited a draft report by the US House of Representatives’ special committee on the Jan. 6 attack, which said “the risk of violence has not decreased since the insurgency.”

Meta said in January, when he let Trump back on Facebook and Instagram, that the risk to public safety had “reduced sufficiently.”

The company said at the time it had put in place “new guard rails” designed to protect “against repeat offenders” from Trump, including limiting his reach and removing the reshare button on questionable posts.

“If Mr. Trump continues to post infringing content, the content will be removed and he will be suspended for anywhere from one month to two years, depending on the severity of the violation,” Meta said.

A meta spokesperson declined to comment on Trump’s Truth Social posts, citing the company’s opinion in January.

Twitter responded to a request for comment with Musk’s standard poop emoji response.

Elon Musk attends the 2022 Met Gala Celebrating In America: An Anthology of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City.

Dimitrios Kambouris | Getty Images

YouTube did not provide commentary on this story. Leslie Miller, vice president of public policy at Google’s video unit, said in a previous statement that the company “has carefully assessed the ongoing risk of violence in the real world and balanced this with the importance of empowering voters, equally.” hearing from major national candidates ahead of an election.”

Miller said that “the channel will continue to be subject to our policies, just like any other channel on YouTube.”

The clearest caveats for Trump come from Truth Social, but they have nothing to do with the substance of his posts. According to agreement between the two parties, Trump must post on Truth Social six hours before publication on a competing social network.

However, this exclusivity deal is set to end in June.

“Then we’ll really see if the platforms will be willing to stick to the guardrails they put in place,” González said, adding that the restrictions Meta put in place are “only weak.”

Angelo Carusone, CEO of nonprofit Media Matters, said he was concerned Trump’s campaign would spread disinformation and incite violence on Truth Social and Rumble, another conservative social network. Facebook and Twitter can be used to direct its many millions of followers to these other apps that have minimal content guidelines.

The risks posed by Trump’s social media habits are greater now that Musk is in control of Twitter, Carusone said.

“Twitter has typically been the first company to make a policy change around content and disinformation,” Carusone said. Under Musk, Twitter “will no longer be at the forefront of tackling disinformation or extremism,” he said.

Musk has said he is only temporarily leading Twitter as CEO and hopes to appoint a successor by the end of this year. As the 2024 election approaches, it’s unclear whether another social network will take a leadership role in political affairs.

González says it’s only a matter of time before Trump’s inflammatory posts cause headaches for major social networks.

“The more he feels cornered and the more his power and freedom are threatened, the more we’re going to see him lash out,” González said. “He has proven that he will have no restraint.”

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