Will he – won’t he? The internet has been abuzz with conjecture about whether Donald Trump will be making an imminent reappearance online. Once the world’s most famous tweeter, what are the former president’s social media prospects?
Twitter Ban Is Forever
Twitter confirmed on Feb. 10 that it will never allow Trump back onto the platform – even if he runs for office again and is re-elected into the White House. “When you’re removed from the platform, you’re removed from the platform,” Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal told CNBC show Squawk Box. He expounded:
“Whether you are a commentator, you’re a CFO, or you are a former or current public official.
“Remember, our policies are designed to make sure that people are not inciting violence. And if anybody does that, we have to remove them from the service. And our policies don’t allow people to come back.”
Segal stated that any other public officials could be treated the same way.
The platform also recently placed permanent bans on notables Jim Hoft, editor in chief of popular right-wing news site The Gateway Pundit, and undercover investigative outfit Project Veritas.
Facebook Won’t Show Its Face
Will Trump’s Facebook ban be permanent, too? The decision will be made by the network’s new Oversight Board, staffed by 20 activists and technocrats from around the world. Until then, his account will remain suspended indefinitely.
Gabbing in the Mirror
While Trump may never again go on a multi-tweet rant, the internet and media were atwitter over a potential appearance from the former president on Gab recently.
Claims that Trump had emerged from analog life to post a sudden message on Gab rampaged over the internet and media, but the story turned out to be fake news. The account, named “realdonaldtrump,” is just a mirror of Trump’s Twitter account created years ago by Gab CEO Andrew Torba as a placeholder. While the account had been silent since the former president’s Twitter ban, Torba later admitted he had made the mysterious post – a copy of a letter from Trump’s lawyers regarding his impeachment trial.
Torba stated that “@realdonaldtrump is and always has been a mirror archive of POTUS’ tweets and statements that we’ve run for years. We’ve always been transparent about this and would obviously let people know if the President starts using it.” He blamed “random British newspapers that didn’t even bother calling us to fact check or for comment” for starting the media furor.
Why hasn’t Gab managed to get Trump on board as a user? According to Torba:
“We will go on the record stating that we know 100% for a fact that Jared Kushner is actively trying to keep Trump off Gab and has been for weeks. Because Gab is the only safe place left for conservatives that means Kushner is trying to keep Trump off the Internet.”
Parler Trips and Stumbles Again
Seen, at least for a while, as a viable alternative that attracted thousands of Trump’s supporters following the November election, Parler now appears to be going nowhere fast. First banned by major online services owned by Google, Apple, and Amazon, the platform now appears beset by internal bickering over its core mission. Whatever is happening behind the scenes, there is simply no platform for Trump to turn to right now.
It surprised many that Trump never joined Parler, but did the former president or his associates consider doing so in return for a chunk of the company?
Buzzfeed recently alleged that the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization had separately negotiated for the president to make Parler his primary social media network, in exchange for a 40% ownership stake – though the deal never went through.
Citing documents seen by the outlet and anonymous sources, Buzzfeed claimed:
“Four sources told BuzzFeed News that [Trump campaign manager Brad] Parscale and Trump campaign lawyer Alex Cannon met with Parler CEO John Matze and shareholders Dan Bongino and Jeffrey Wernick at Trump’s Florida club Mar-a-Lago in June 2020 to discuss the idea. But the White House counsel’s office soon put a stop to the talks, one person with knowledge of the discussions said, ruling that such a deal while Trump was president would violate ethics rules.”
According to Buzzfeed, the negotiations were revived closer to the November elections by the Trump Organization before ultimately being canned after the events of Jan. 6.
Parscale and Parler executives confirmed that at least some form of talks took place, but one suggested there were some inaccuracies in the report – though it’s not clear what these would be. Parscale clarified, “The president was never part of the discussions.”
Despite being kicked off the web, Parler doesn’t appear to be getting off easy. Citing the Trump deal and the events of Jan. 6, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), chair of the House Oversight Committee, has requested financial details from the company. And, because no scandal these days would be complete without bringing the Russians in, Maloney also asked for information on the site’s Russian connections – likely due to conjecture that it is receiving technical support in that country.
Is Life Better Offline?
Meanwhile, former Trump staffer Jason Miller says Trump is happier offline. “He’s said that not being on social media, and not being subject to the hateful echo chamber that social media too frequently becomes, has actually been good,” Miller affirmed. It’s been “the first time in years that I saw the president truly relaxed,” he added.
Will the former president and political whirlwind ever make it back onto the internet? Perhaps he’s in no hurry after all.
Read more from Laura Valkovic.