Skip to main content

Social media giants finally treat Trump like the rest of us

It happened slowly — and then all at once. Has the tech reckoning against Donald Trump finally arrived?

Let’s look at the stats: Donald Trump — who has been a user on Twitter since March 2009 — he has been President of the United States since January 20, 2017, or 1,257 days as of the publication of this article.

For most of those days, he was free to roam over social media, sharing often offensive and inflammatory comments, posts and tweets, as well as frequently retweeting conspiracy theorists. But for the vast majority of his presidency, Trump was protected by his status as president. His statements were so newsworthy, platforms said, it would be against the public interest to interfere with them.

Then something changed.

On day 1,165 of Trump’s presidential life, Twitter began flagging his tweets — in one case for “glorifying violence,” in another for spreading misinformation about mail-in voting. Trump — long itching for a fight — hit back, signing an executive order that attempted to curtail the protections social media platforms rely on to shield them from lawsuits related to the content posted on their sites.

But Trump’s move wasn’t enough to stop the drip-drip-drip of social media sites deciding they had had enough. On day 1,231, Snapchat’s parent company Snap announced it would no longer promote the presidential account on its discover page because of comments that promote “racial violence and injustice.”

On day 1,254, Facebook — the largest platform of all of these — took down a Trump campaign ad that appeared to use Nazi imagery, and announced it would start flagging any and all of the president’s posts that it felt broke its rules. Facebook’s decision came after it faced a growing advertiser backlash over its hate speech policies.

And now on day 1,257, popular streaming service Twitch has temporarily suspended the president’s campaign account for “hateful conduct.”

Not just the president

It’s not just the president, although he is the most high-profile example of what may be a culling of right-wing inflammatory figures on social media sites. In the same breath, YouTube also took down several other prominent right-wing and alt-right figures including Richard Spencer and David Duke, the former head of the Ku Klux Klan.

Reddit today has also suspended the notorious pro-Trump subreddit r/The_Donald for “frequent rule-breaking.” The group had an average of 7,780 daily users and more than 790,000 subscribers and was considered a bastion of pro-Trump conspiracy theories, as well as racist, misogynistic, and Islamaphobic content.

Looking at the unfurling of the consequences of the president’s social media actions, it certainly appears like this backlash could be a turning point.

Twitter might not have the most number of active users of all the popular social media sites — according to MuckRack, it has 386 million active monthly users (AMU), compared with Facebook’s 2.6 billion AMU — but as a popular site with many prominent media figures, its corporate decisions have massive clout. Twitter’s move provided the cover that other platforms needed to take the steps they had long been pressured to take, including curbing hateful rhetoric, especially hate speech coming from on high.

So, at last, has the president finally been brought down to the level of the rest of us, who are held accountable for the stuff we say in public, even if that accountability might be somewhat unevenly enforced? Whether that drip-drip-drip of turns into the tsunami that could finally cleanse a lot of these platforms of their more unsavory elements remains to be seen.

Much like the controversies around “cancel culture,” this will only work if the rules continue to apply to Trump. It would not behoove Twitter to start flagging his tweets and then mysteriously stop.

Similarly, if Snap began promoting his account again, or if Facebook ceased moderating his content, it will lend strength to the narrative that Trump and his supporters love to peddle: That they have triumphed over a biased and malevolent social media monster, and that they are stronger than the machinery working against them.

In reality, there is no such machinery. Just a bunch of private companies that tolerated questionable and hateful content for more than 1,200 days before deciding to do something about it. For the good of the internet — and possibly even U.S. democracy — let’s hope it stays that way.

Editors' Recommendations

Maya Shwayder
I'm a multimedia journalist currently based in New England. I previously worked for DW News/Deutsche Welle as an anchor and…
JPEG vs. PNG: When and why to use one format over the other
A person using Adobe Lightroom CC on an iMac.

In digital imaging, two image formats prevail above all else: JPEG (or JPG) and PNG.

At first glance, a single image shown in both formats might seem identical, but if you look closely enough and dig into the data, there is quite a difference between them. One format isn't always better than the other, as each is designed to be used in specific circumstances based on your needs for image quality, file size, and more. Here's what you need to know about both formats to make the most of their strengths and weaknesses.
What is the JPEG format?
Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group -- the team that developed the format -- JPEG has become the standard compressed format in digital photography and online image sharing due to its careful balance of file size and image quality.

Read more
Is there a Walmart Plus free trial? Get a month of free delivery
Walmart logo.

Take a moment and think about how often you shop at your local Walmart. Is it weekly? Daily? If either of those is the case, it might be time to upgrade your shopping experience. The Walmart Plus free trial is your chance to check out what the retail giant has to offer. Walmart Plus is basically Amazon Prime for Walmart. You get free shipping on most orders, early access to deals and new product drops (like PS5 restocks), the best grocery delivery, and more. If Walmart is your go-to option for the best smart home devices or the best tech products in general, you should get a membership. If you want to test out the service, you can sign up for a free trial. We have all the information you need right here.
Is there a Walmart Plus free trial?
There is a Walmart Plus free trial available, and it’s one of the best free trials we’ve seen in terms of how many great features and conveniences you’re able to access. This is really a reflection of how great the Walmart Plus service is, as the Walmart Plus free trial is essentially a 30-day experience of what it would be like to be a paid Walmart Plus subscriber. A Walmart Plus membership can help you save over $1,300 per year, so taking advantage of the 30-day free trial is a great way to get in there and see what those savings will look like. And if grocery delivery is what you're really after, an alternative you might consider is the Instacart free trial -- they have more than one program to try!

As part of a Walmart Plus free trial, you’ll get free shipping with no minimum order, so even small orders will qualify for free shipping. You’ll get fresh groceries and more with no delivery fees, and all at the same low in-store prices Walmart shoppers are used to. Walmart Plus members, and Walmart Plus free trial members, get exclusive access to special promotions and events, as well as a savings of up to 10 cents per gallon on fuel. A new addition to the perks of being a Walmart Plus member is free access to Paramount Plus, a top-notch streaming service with more than 40,000 TV episodes and movies. All of this is accessible for 30 days through a Walmart Plus free trial, and once those 30 days are up, Walmart Plus is just $12.95 per month or $98 annually.

Read more
The 13 best early Black Friday deals you can shop this weekend
Digital Trends Best Black Friday Deals

Even though Black Friday is still a couple of weeks away, we're already starting to see a lot of great deals on several different types of products. So, if you can't wait for the upcoming Black Friday and need to grab a few things now, we've collected some of our favorite deals across products and budget ranges to make your life a little bit easier. Below, you'll find deals on cordless vacuums, laptops, TVs, headphones, and phones, so it's a great collection of stuff that we think you'll find useful and want to grab. That said, if you can't find what you want, be sure to check our main Black Friday deals page for even more great offers.
Wyze Cordless Stick Vacuum -- $98, was $150

While budget cordless vacuum cleaners can sometimes not be that great, we found the Wyze Cordless Stick Vacuum to be surprisingly good for its price point. At just 2.8 pounds of weight, it's light enough that you won't feel like you're doing a workout every time you use it, and it is great for those who might have issues with arm weakness. Just because it's light doesn't mean it's not powerful, though, with two motors providing 24,000 pascals of suction, which is quite a lot at this price. It also has a HEPA filter to keep the air you breathe clean while vacuuming, which is impressive, but sadly, it does have a big downside in that it only lasts for about 50 minutes of vacuuming. That's not necessarily a dealbreaker, and you can buy a backup battery, but it's an important thing to note.

Read more