The Trump ban effect and future of social med ia
THE former President of the United States, Donald Trump, has delivered on the promise to launch his own social media platform – except that it’s just a Wordpress blog.
Due to his misconduct and breaking of social media platform rules Trump was booted out of Twitter and Facebook. In response to this, he promised to develop his platform.
On Tuesday, he launched a website that is styled like a generic version of Twitter but hosted as a running blog of commentary. People can sign up for post alerts on the platform through their email and phone numbers.
People can supposedly like posts, but that function does not appear to work at this stage. Users were briefly allowed to share Trump’s posts on Facebook and Twitter. The website showcases a video advertising his new platform, calling it “a place to speak freely and safely, straight from the desk of Donald J Trump”.
The launch came just a day before Facebook’s Oversight Board was set to announce whether Trump would be allowed back on Facebook and other Facebook-owned social media platforms like Instagram.
Facebook’s quasi-judicial moderation panel decided to still keep Trump outside the platform.
The developments around Trump and social media are highlighting something that requires more attention about the power of social platforms.
No matter how much society can dislike Donald Trump, decisions by social media platforms about Trump have implications that go beyond just Trump. Researchers at Washington University who studied the effects of
cancelling people from social media platforms have noticed another concerning development.
The researchers analysed online posts made between 2017 and 2020 from Trump-related communities that were banned from Reddit and subsequently moved to stand-alone websites.
They found overall that having them banned significantly decreased posting activity, reducing the number of posts, active users, and newcomers.
But r/the_donald users that migrated to an independent website called thedonald.win showed signs of increased toxicity and radicalisation.
According to these researchers, their findings paint a nuanced picture of the effect of platform moderation action and should help inform decisions that platforms, and government officials, make when it comes to dealing with false and hateful messages.
What this is also telling us is that banning bad actors on social media creates unintended consequences that may backfire. It seems there’s more work to be done to clean up social media platforms.