The High Cost of Quieting Down Trump

The source of Donald Trump’s strength was also his Achilles heel. When the big social media giants, Twitter and Facebook in particular, curtailed Trump’s ability to post, he became a severely pared-back figure on the world stage even before his successor Joe Biden was sworn in. Trump didn’t do it without social media. It has not been possible to harass Republican lawmakers so successfully or to rally its supporters so effectively. It is noteworthy that calls for protests against the state capitals have stalled after the botched January 6th coup.

Deplatforming works now, as is clear. Without the social media megaphone, Trump is no longer the booming and scary Wizard of Oz, but the pathetic little man behind the curtain. But muting has its price. It showed the tremendous power that private social media have. In response, both social media companies and mainstream news outlets and think tanks have stepped up their surveillance of language. These powerful centrist institutions, likely motivated by a misguided effort to prove they are balanced, are now actively seeking to silence voices that are driving conservatives crazy.

As Jacobin Editor Bhaskar Sunkara reported On Saturday: “The UK’s largest revolutionary socialist organization has removed its Facebook pages and groups and Twitter has banned a number of US-based anarchist accounts.” Youtube strike on the left news account The Serfs claimed it violated rules on “fraudulent practices” in an anti-Trump news report. In Spain YouTube banished the broadcaster La Marea, a major left-wing source in Spain, for alleged “hatred” when reporting on the vigilante migrants attacking. On Sunday Facebook closed the site of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality at the University of Michigan, an officially recognized campus group.

The same pattern is noticeable in other media. As Adam Serwer from The Atlantic written down On Saturday: “This week alone, people from the New York Times, Niskanen Center and Fox News have been fired for driving conservatives crazy.”

The cases cited by Serwer vary, but all speak for a new media environment in which mainstream corporations appear to be more nervous about insulting Trump supporters and are doing their best to counter critical voices.

On Thursday the journalist Yashar Ali reported“Lauren Wolfe, editor at NYT, terminated her contract after tweeting on the left. Wolfe also tweeted which is on the right, but deleted when she learned that Biden had taken his own plane.” (Actually Wolfe did not have a contract but an informal professional agreement that was separated.)

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