On January 7, 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Trump will be banned on Facebook and Instagram for much longer. Following the Capitol riots, he was banned from major platforms for 24 hours. However, due to rage from the public and employees, the ban was announced to continue much longer. Zuckerberg said, “The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden. We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
Later on Thursday, Youtube announced that any accounts that spread misinformation about the Capitol riots or the elections will be temporarily suspended. Within a 90 day period from their first suspension, any account that receives three strikes will be terminated permanently. Snapchat also removed the President and Shopify removed Trump’s stores. Alongside, Twitter, one of Trump’s most prominent accounts, suspended him and removed some of his posts.
While many felt proud of this decision, there were those that were skeptical and felt that it was far too late. Some users noted that it occurred right after events such as the Democratic control over the Senate, verification from Congress over electoral votes for Biden and after Trump’s Deputy Chief of Staff promised to commit to a peaceful transition. Senator Mark Warner said that the move was needed but occurred far too late. The damage caused by his accounts was excessive. “These platforms have served as core organising infrastructure for violent, far-right groups and militia movements for several years now – helping them to recruit, organise, coordinate and in many cases (particularly with respect to YouTube) generate profits from their violent, extremist content,” he said.
Many are also concerned about the power social media heads hold. Evidently, power is not only in law enforcement or the government but also in restricting platforms that shape events. The New York Times spoke of the kind of power Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey hold. Trump’s impeachment would be embarrassing to him however losing his large public following on social media would reduce his cultural, political and extreme influence in the future.
However, despite these actions, Trump will inevitably find a way back on social media. His followers are well progressing on smaller platforms such as Gab and Parler. However, he would not have much influence on the lesser known platforms. Some even say that he may start his own platform where he has full liberty. If that doesn’t succeed, he still has Fox News.
Nevertheless, the social control and influence he had on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will never be regained. The influence he had from wind turbines to former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to COVID-19 “treatments” will never be seen again.
On the other hand, First Lady Melania Trump was successful in her Be Best campaign. This was an initiative she started against cyberbullying. “Mrs. Trump believes that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce to them that when they are using their voices—whether verbally or online—they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.” This event marked her biggest achievement. Trevor Noah, famous comedian and host of the Daily Show, took to Twitter to congratulate her along with many others.