This gap was a stark reminder of the power of Trump’s incredibly direct connection to his supporters – and perhaps the hidden weakness of a strategy that relies so heavily on social media platforms like Facebook.
Trump’s allies say he can be a winner no matter what: even if Facebook keeps him out, he’ll wield “canceled” like a club; back, he can declare victory by singing the “Big Tech” titan caving. “Either way, it’s a win-win for DJT,” former Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg told me. “The movement he built is ubiquitous on social media, like a MAGA blockchain. Trump’s social media power is no longer just one verified account, ”former adviser Taylor Budowich said. “To truly cancel Trump, Facebook and other platforms would have to cancel the majority of their most engaged users.”
Others, however, from internet pundits and analysts to political professionals on both sides, remain almost shocked at how much Trump has been calmed by his silence in Silicon Valley – deprived of his ability to say exactly what he means every time he wants to say. he straight to what was his total of over 100 million subscribers on YouTube and Twitter and Facebook.
“He’ll try to get this thing to work anyway, but the problem is he needs the outlet,” longtime New York-based Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf told me. “He is existentially hindered because he cannot attack an enemy unhindered by a particular population on a constant basis.”
“It’s really important that he has access to this audience,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican strategist who led Marco Rubio’s digital efforts during his 2016 presidential campaign. “Wednesday’s decision is important to the government. Trump’s political future – if you’re not here and you’re not able to shape this conversation, it’s catastrophic. ”
“He certainly would,” said Eli Pariser, the author of The filter bubble and Upworthy co-founder, “must be a very different candidate without these platforms.”
He should reach his constituents and potential voters not on social media, but through more traditional channels. And for Trump, from what I heard in Ohio, those channels are broken – because he broke them.
“It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Wilson said, “if you tell your followers not to trust the media.”
Facebook has always been extremely important to Trump in his political rise and reign. Twitter, who has started it forever, tended to be more in the foreground – for Trump it was a rough and lively discussion group and a real-time, totally non-private journal. But if Twitter was the loudspeaker, Facebook was the less flashy but nonetheless critical organizing, advertising and fundraising infrastructure. Compared to Twitter’s loud cafe, Facebook was the underground pipes. It’s hard to see how Trump would have become president without it.
“I understood early on that Facebook was how Donald Trump was going to win,” said Brad Parscale, digital media director for Trump’s 2016 campaign, who then started as campaign manager in 2020, in 2017. “Facebook was the method – it was the highway his car was traveling on.
“… A large number of conservative voters, the ability to broadcast all day, multiple times to the same audience, and the numbers showed on the consumer side that people were spending more and more hours of their day consuming fuel. Facebook content, ”he said in 2018.“ Being able to show a message directly from President Trump speaking… talking directly to the camera was very important. I could do it without being filtered by the media, not filtered by anyone. It was his face. This was the person you wanted to hear by speaking directly to you. “
A New York headline in March 2020 referred to “Trump’s Facebook Juggernaut.”
“He arguably has the best fundraising list in Republican politics right now, which means he has the best email and text messaging lists, but there’s a half-life there- above – because people change email, change cell phone provider. So it’s important that he continues to fill that pipeline with new contacts, and that’s where Facebook comes in, ”Wilson said, noting that the poll he conducted suggests 60% of voters are logging on. to Facebook. everyday.