While Trump Incites Potential Violence, Meta Monetizes His Facebook Ads
On March 18, former President Donald Trump started running Facebook ads from his own page — the first time that his page has run new ads since Meta allowed him to return to the platform and gave him full advertising access. The same day, Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social and called for his supporters to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
On January 25, two years after Trump was suspended for inciting violence on January 6, 2021, Meta announced that the company would be reinstating his accounts on its platforms. In deciding that Trump could return, the company determined that “the risk to public safety,” which it set out as the measure for ending his ban, has “sufficiently receded” — a flawed assessment given Trump’s history of pushing dangerous misinformation. The accounts were ultimately restored on February 9, with Trump posting on Facebook again on March 17.
Media Matters has now found that his previously suspended page started running ads again on March 18, attacking the “Deep State,” “Fake News,” and “Big Tech.” Several of the ads feature Trump telling his followers: “The Deep State and Fake News will do everything in their power to destroy me and stop YOU from having a voice in your own country.”
Half of the ads include video of Trump attacking Facebook and other tech companies: “Your all-time favorite president is back on Facebook. What Big Tech did to me and you was an absolute disgrace.”
While Trump’s page started running these ads, Trump was posting on Truth Social, suggesting that he will be arrested on March 21 and claiming that “IT’S TIME” and he needs his supporters to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” and “SAVE AMERICA!PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”
Throughout his suspension, Trump ran Meta ads from various pages run by his joint fundraising committee, but limitations such as a prohibition on ads that were in his voice reportedly made fundraising more difficult and Trump’s ad spending on Meta’s platforms before his suspension dwarfed the PAC’s ad spending while he was banned. (His Facebook page was the platform’s largest political advertiser in the last five years.)
By reinstating Trump’s accounts, Meta prioritized the revenue it will get from Trump over public safety. On the day his page ran new ads for the first time since his reinstatement, he was on another platform encouraging his supporters to protest — demonstrating that the threat he poses to public safety has clearly not receded.
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.