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Tag: trump facebook ban

Experts Roast Trump’s ‘Incompetent' Lawsuit Against Social Media Giants

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Donald Trump, the former president, on Wednesday announced what he described as a class action lawsuit against "Big Tech," specifically Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and their CEOs as well. Trump for about 50 minutes ranted and railed about having been banned from the social media platforms, along with numerous other grievances.

Trump, his team, and the group supporting him, America First Policy Institute, are essentially claiming Trump's First Amendment rights were violated when he was banned from the two social media platforms, and because they have protection under federal law known as Section 230, they are an arm of the government, which experts say is false.

Legal experts are responding negatively to both the lawsuit itself and the attorneys who filed it.

Sam Brunson, Georgia Reithal Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago, mocks their AOL email addresses and calls them "not competent."

He also calls the lawsuit a "LOLsuit."

Commercial, trademark, copyright, patent and trade secret litigation attorney Akiva Cohen calls the attorneys a "clown show."

And also mocks them for having AOL email addresses, among other things.

University of Michigan law professor, NBC News and MSNBC legal analyst, former US Attorney:

Brad Heath, DC reporter for Reuters on crime and justice:

Preston Byrne, partner at Anderson Kill Law Firm, Fellow at Adam Smith Institute:

Trump PAC Raising Funds On Facebook Despite His Suspension

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Facebook's latest policy carve-out for former President Donald Trump, which allows Trump's political action committees to run ads as long they are not "in his voice," has permitted Trump to fundraise and promote his events on the platform, even though he is suspended for at least two years. In return, Facebook has earned at least $10,000 in revenue on these ads.

On June 21, Politico reported that Trump's Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, a joint venture between his Make America Great Again PAC and his newer Save America leadership PAC, had started sponsoring Facebook ads on the Team Trump campaign page. The Team Trump page, which hasn't run any ads since the 2020 election, is also now managed by the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, and it was run by the Trump campaign as recently as May.

Media Matters analyzed data from Facebook's Ad Library and found that Team Trump has run 258 ads since June 16, spending at least $10,200 and earning at least 1.3 million impressions on ads fundraising off Trump's visit to the border, attacking President Joe Biden, supporting Trump and "the MAGA Movement," or promoting his upcoming rally in Ohio. At time of publication, 37 of the ads are active.

Trump's fundraising committee is running these ads even though Facebook has suspended him from the platform for at least two years, citing his "acts of incitement" in order "to be a deterrent to Mr. Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future." (Responding to Politico's initial reporting about the ads, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said, "Groups affiliated with the former president are not barred from posting on Facebook so long as they are not posting in his voice.")

In addition to inciting violence, thousands of Trump's Facebook posts also contained misinformation, warranted an additional information label, or contained harmful rhetoric about others. Facebook allowed Trump to abuse the platform for years, with policy exemptions and weak or ineffective attempts to rein in lies from the former president and his campaign. As but one example, the platform's policyof not fact-checking politicians in ads allowed Facebook to profit from thousands of misleading ads spreading smears and misinformation that Trump ran. And in some cases -- such as with the platform's labeling system -- Facebook's policy may have actually backfired, amplifying Trump's misinformation.

Despite Trump's suspension, his Facebook and Instagram pages remain visible and his old content continues to garner new engagement. Now, this latest policy carve-out allowing "affiliated groups" to run pro-Trump ads as long they are not "in his voice" functionally permits Trump to fundraise on Facebook and promote his events through his network of PACs.

Promoting Trump's Ohio Rally

Since June 16, Team Trump has run at least 119 ads promoting Trump's Ohio rally to be held in July, encouraging people to "get your free tickets now." At time of publication, Facebook has removed 86 of them for violating its advertising policies. (It is unclear which policy they violated.) Trump's fundraising committee spent at least $6,500 and earned more than 490,000 impressions on five different versions of these Ohio rally ads:

Team Trump Facebook ads promoting Trump's Ohio rally_1

Team Trump Facebook ads promoting Trump's Ohio rally_2

Fundraising Off Trump's Border Visit

On June 24, Team Trump started running ads fundraising off Trump's visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. At time of publication, there are at least 10 ads, four of which remain active. Trump's fundraising committee spent less than $300 and earned under 6,000 impressions on three different versions of these ads:

Team Trump Facebook ads fundraising off Trump's visit to the border (1)

Anti-Biden Fundraising

Since June 16, Team Trump has run at least 56 fundraising ads attacking Biden and declaring that "America is in DECLINE." At time of publication, 15 of these ads remain active. Trump's fundraising committee spent at least $900 and earned more than 140,000 impressions on three different versions of these ads:

Team Trump facebook anti-Biden fundraising ads (1)

Pro-Trump Fundraising

Since June 16, Team Trump has run at least 73 fundraising ads in support of Trump and "the America First agenda." At time of publication, 18 of these ads remain active. Trump's fundraising committee spent at least $2,800 and earned more than 745,000 impressions with four different versions of these ads:

Team Trump Facebook pro-Trump fundraising ads

How Trump Became An Online Flop In 2021

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

After less than a month of postings, Trump's blog was officially taken offline last week, after drawing an embarrassingly small audience. Loyalists will no longer be able to check on "From the Desk of Donald J. Trump" to read his latest, bitter musings.

The sudden move to unplug the aging Florida blogger came as Trump continues to struggle to attract an online audience after getting de-platformed by Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram in the wake of the January 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. The social media giants rightly accused Trump of inciting violence and of depicting the mob vigilantes as patriots. Once accustomed to seeing his tweets and Facebook posts garnering millions of likes and responses, Trump now finds himself lost in the online wilderness, ignored and rejected.

NBC News last week reported that Trump's blog had "attracted a little over 212,000 engagements," a shockingly small number for someone of his political status. By comparison, when Trump got banned for life from Twitter, he had 88 million followers.

While Trump is widely seen as the odds on favorite to win the 2024 Republican nomination if he decides to run again, competing in a general election campaign with virtually no online presence could pose a major problem for the him.

Although there had been chatter about Trump launching an ambitious media play in his post-presidency years, he's always been lazy. Which is why the idea that he'd undertake the Herculean task of building a social media outpost from nothing always seemed farfetched. To date, it's clear he's taken a haphazard approach to his website.

The Washington Post reported that Trump's blog was taken down because he was upset that people were making fun of its paltry audience. Going back to his days at The Apprentice,Trump has always used ratings as a way to judge a person's worth. One of his favorite putdowns as president was to claim that a particular news network had bad ratings, which means his dismal showing online this year no doubt stings. Especially after his flak Jason Miller had hyped the site as "the hottest ticket in social media, it's going to completely redefine the game."

Why the online collapse this year? Aside from Trump's hibernation down at Mar-a-Lago, he's clearly been unable to reproduce the buzz that his tweets, and to a degree his Facebook posts, generated. Reveling in Twitter's rapid-fire insult style, Trump became a social media star by making news and announcing controversial government policy online. By comparison, his dreary, boring blog posts generated yawns. His namesake site is also seen as being primitive by 2021 standards, and included no comment section for Trump's blog postings.

The site's audience collapse in the last 12 months has been astonishing. "Data provided by right-wing website monitor The Righting revealed that last April, pulled in 14.4 million unique visitors. Last month, it garnered a mere 161,000," The Wrap recently reported.

It hasn't just been his colossal flop as a blogger. All across the internet, references to Trump have plummeted, even as Republican leaders scramble to placate him.

"Chatter about Trump has fallen across the biggest social media sites to its lowest level since May 2016, when he was just becoming the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, according to the BuzzSumo data," the Post reported. "On Twitter, data from the online-analytics firm Zignal Labs shows, mentions of him have cratered to an average of about 4 million a week, the lowest since 2016."

The bad online news comes after Trump's recent one-hour sit-down with Steve Cortes and Jenn Pellegrino on NewsMax on May 25 drew just 295,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data — and just 62,000 viewers in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25 to 54. That same night during the 9 p.m. time slot when Trump appeared on NewsMax, his interview got beat badly in the ratings by Chopped, and by HGTV's Unsellable Houses, which pulled 1.3 million total viewers, or nearly four times the Trump audience.

For years, the media loved to portray Trump as a cultural phenomenon who produces bonanza ratings. Of course, Trump pushed that media myth himself. He once claimed that when he appeared on Fox News Sunday in November 2018, the show landed nine million viewers. In truth, 1.7 million people tuned in. The truth is, he often produces shoulder shrugs.

Trump's convention acceptance speech last year was the lowest-rated one in primetime history. The summer before, ABC News aired a primetime Trump special, built around the idea of tagging along with him for 30 hours inside the White House. The special flopped, coming in third place among the three major networks on Sunday at 8 PM ET. Worse, the show produced just half the television audience that ABC's Celebrity Family Feud had attracted in the same time slot one week earlier.

The dichotomy now at play is an amazing one: As Trump fades from public view and generates so little interest online, the Republican Party continues to genuflect in front of him.

Why Facebook Should Ban Trump Permanently

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Facebook has done the bare minimum once again regarding Donald Trump's account, postponing real action for two years. But anything short of a full ban rings hollow. Trump spent years using Facebook to push misinformation and spread extreme rhetoric against his critics -- particularly during his presidency -- and it should be easy for the platform to do the responsible thing and permanently ban his account.

On June 4, Facebook announced plans to suspend Trump for two years, leaving open the possibility of his return "if conditions permit." But if Trump is let back on, he will by all indications continue to abuse the platform to spread misinformation and attack others, as he's done for years. A two-year suspension — just one election cycle — is unlikely to change that.

Media Matters previously reported that roughly 24 percent of Trump's posts between January 1, 2020, and January 6, 2021, contained either misinformation, content warranting an additional information label, or harmful rhetoric about others. Based on his previous habits, we estimate that his two-year suspension will keep at least 2,800 posts with misinformation or extreme rhetoric off the platform, including at least 700 posts that would likely have contained election misinformation.

Facebook has let Trump abuse its platform for years. His 2016 campaign was bolstered on Facebook by fake accounts, and it used data illegally obtained from the platform. And things have not improved since. As our data on his 2020 posts shows, the 24 percent of his 2020 posts that pushed misinformation or extreme rhetoric earned 331.6 million interactions. Facebook's meager attempts to rein in Trump's lies have not been effective, and in some cases -- such as with the platform's labeling system -- they may have backfired.

Facebook's refusal to permanently ban Trump is unsurprising, as he and his extreme rhetoric are good for business. According to Pathmatics data analyzed by Media Matters, the Trump campaign spent roughly $121.5 million on Facebook ads in 2020, earning over 16 billion impressions on these ads. The only companies that spent more on Facebook ads in 2020 were Disney and HBO. And this figure includes only the money the campaign gave directly to Facebook; Trump also directed users to other misinformation spreaders that make Facebook money, putting him at the center of Facebook's lucrative right-wing misinformation ecosystem.

Despite at least one Facebook executive's claims, divisive content garners high engagement, and engagement drives Facebook's profits. The ecosystem propped up by Trump is lucrative, so it is predictable – though still disappointing – that Facebook is hesitant to upset its profit producers.

Trump's Facebook and Instagram pages remain visible, as they have throughout his suspension, and his old content continues to garner new engagement. It's unacceptable that Facebook has left visible content featuring the behaviors (spreading misinformation, inciting violence) that got him kicked off the platform in the first place, and it's exemplary of Facebook's careless content moderation.

Facebook has done everything it could to avoid taking responsibility for Trump's misuse of the platform, and this approach continues in its unwillingness to commit to permanently preventing his return. Now Facebook has all but guaranteed that Trump will make headlines again when his suspension is reevaluated. The cowardly decision is completely antithetical to the platform's stated mission – "to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together." By failing to ban Trump outright, despite the damage he has done, Facebook has shown its true mission is increasing profit regardless of the costs.

Oh Dear: Trump’s Moribund Blog Is Officially Dead

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Back in January, Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter after he doubled down on the lies that generated the violence on January 6 by both continuing those lies and praising the insurgents. Facebook has since continued Trump's temporary suspension "indefinitely." Soon after, stories began to circulate that Trump was either going to buy out an existing social media platform (presumably using the funds of those still sending him checks to "stop the steal") or launch his own.

By March, Trump assistant Jason Miller popped up on Fox News to say that Trump was returning to social media with his own platform. "This is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media," said Miller. "It's going to completely redefine the game, and everybody is going to be waiting and watching to see what exactly President Trump does. But it will be his own platform."

Earlier this month, Trump did in fact launch a platform that redefined the game. He redefined it in terms of a pre-2000 blog that allowed only Trump to post and no one else to comment. That's not to say that "From the Desk of Donald J. Trump" didn't have at least one innovative feature—it contained a like button that, once turned on, could never be turned off. It was perfect. Except for one thing: No one was showing up to read it.

For a mere three weeks, Trump's blog existed as a pure demonstration of his growing irrelevance. But this morning, CNBC reported that Jason Miller was back with the next exciting update: Trump's blog has been scrubbed from his site. And it's not coming back.

As Jessica Sutherland noted on May 22, while Trump's erratic posts on his "desk" blog were dutifully picked up by the right-wing media, it's not as if anyone else was hovering around waiting for the off chance that he might speak. That put Trump's new site way down the list of most visited websites. Like … down below sites seeking to place pets from shelters and well below sites that teach people to properly grill steak (without ketchup).

Mostly, Trump's blog site seemed to exist as an example of his lack of a team capable of genuine technical work, and as an example of how his ego allowed him to believe that a site posting occasional statements from a single person—most of them exactly the sort of nonsense that he used to deliver via tweet—could remain somehow relevant.

Still, Miller isn't ruling out a return to social media for Trump, though he does "not have a precise awareness of timing."

Honestly, Trump should be able to create an alternative to conservative sites like Parler for the cost of a couple of Python programmers and a rented server. It's not as if those sites are doing anything that represents a great technical challenge. The only challenge will be Trump agreeing to be on a platform where the only voice isn't his voice.

But if Trump does create a new site, you can bet it will have some pretty simple community guidelines.

Republicans Declare War On Facebook Over Trump Ban

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Congressional Republicans lashed out against Facebook on Wednesday after the company announced that it would maintain its ban on Donald Trump for inciting violence on the social media platform.

Facebook first banned Trump on January 7, the day after the attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol.

"The Board found that the two posts by Mr. Trump on January 6 severely violated Facebook's Community Standards and Instagram's Community Guidelines," Facebook's oversight board noted, citing Trump's praise of the rioters.

In those posts, Trump had written, "We love you. You're very special," and called the rioters "great patriots" as they broke through barriers and ran through the halls of the Capitol complex, some saying they were in search of Mike Pence with the intent to do him harm.

Five people died during the attack, and over 450 people have been arrested and face federal charges.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy led the charge against the decision on Wednesday.

"Facebook is more interested in acting like a Democrat Super PAC than a platform for free speech and open debate," he tweeted, adding, "A House Republican majority will rein in big tech power over our speech."

Calling the decision "disgraceful," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked, "For every liberal celebrating Trump's social media ban, if the Big Tech oligarchs can muzzle the former President, what's to stop them from silencing you?"

Trump is still free to offer his views on multiple platforms, including his recently launched blog.

"It's clear that Mark Zuckerberg views himself as the arbiter of speech," complained Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) wrote, "Big tech thinks it can control anything."

"Break them up," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) wrote, "@facebook thank you for securing the GOP majority come 2022."

She wrote, in a tweet that was deleted a few minutes after she posted it but that was captured by ProPublica first, "This morning, Facebook banned Trump permanently. Facebook will pay the price. Mark my words."

The official account of Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee derided the decision with one word: "Pathetic."

Republicans have protested Trump's deplatforming since it first occurred. In Florida and Texas, legislation has been proposed and passed by Republicans with the goal of punishing tech companies for banning public officials who violate their terms of service.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

While Facebook Reconsiders Trump Account, He’s Still Promoting Lies

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

EDITOR'S UPDATE: On Wednesday morning, the Facebook oversight board reaffirmed the social media behemoth's suspension of former President Donald J. Trump, but criticized the "indeterminate suspension without clear standards." The board instructed the company to review the decision within six months while establishing a "proportionate response" to Trump's violations.

Former President Donald Trump has been suspended from Facebook for 118 days — potentially keeping hundreds of misinformative or harmful posts off the platform. Without access to Facebook, Trump has turned to alternate forms of communication to deliver more of his same lies about the election that helped ignite an armed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

But on Wednesday morning, the Facebook Oversight Board will announce its decision on reinstating his account. If the board allows Trump back on the platform, it will likely embolden the former president and give him an even bigger platform to spread these harmful lies.

Trump — who is banned on Twitter as well — has not been silent without his social media accounts, nor has he been remorseful. On Monday morning, Trump published a press release via his Save America PAC that clearly telegraphed the false, divisive, and dangerous rhetoric he would likely amplify and share on Facebook if the board reinstates his account.

The press release reads: "The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!" — a claim Trump reiterated last month on Newsmax, where he called the election "rigged" and "stolen." Two weeks prior, he was on Fox News claiming the "Supreme Court and our courts didn't have the courage to overturn elections that should have been overturned." If his post-election media appearances and statements are any indication, Trump will likely use Facebook to spread the same false messaging about the election if he is allowed back on the platform.

Media Matters previously reported that Trump pushed election misinformation in 363 posts, or six percent of his total posts between January 1, 2020, and January 6, 2021. Based on his previous habits, we estimate that the full duration of his suspension (119 days by tomorrow's decision) kept approximately 463 posts with misinformation or extreme rhetoric off the platform, including roughly 116 posts that would likely contain election misinformation.

Throughout his presidency, Trump used social media to spread dangerous, hateful lies, and social media companies did nothing to stop it. This culminated in the events of January 6, when Trump used his Facebook page to encourage the Capitol rioters, who were spurred on by his months-long barrage of false election fraud claims. Now, Trump's press releases and media interviews could not be any clearer: He is doubling down on the lie that the election was stolen.

If the Facebook Oversight Board allows Trump back on the platform, it will be enabling him to continue the exact same behaviors that got him suspended in the first place -- spreading lies and encouraging violence.

Research contributions from Kayla Gogarty