GE: But if Donald Trump does it, or Angela Merkel does it, or Benjamin Netanyahu, or Rodrigo Duterte, or whoever, with millions of followers and political support, the real world consequences have the potential to be much greater. So what I’m really curious to see is how does Facebook responds to that policy suggestion?
LG: Right. So Facebook has been using this idea of newsworthiness to give these leaders a little bit extra leeway. It probably error on the side of leaving things up, whereas the board is arguing actually it’s these people who have such great influence over real life actions and behaviors that it needs to be addressed differently and perhaps more quickly. Now, a lot of this conversation, of course, is focused on Facebook because we’re talking about the Facebook Oversight Board, but there’s nothing stopping Donald Trump from going off platform, going to another platform and launching a website, or… I guess he can’t go on Twitter at this point in time either. But tell us what he’s doing now and what happens if you runs again in the future, right? Where do you envision his content being shared?
GE: Well, he did launch his own website called From the Desk of Donald Trump, and it’s-
MC: Best website name ever.
LG: I have to say, I’ve not been to that website.
GE: Imagine Twitter, but the only user is Donald Trump, and there’s no other features. That is what this site is. It’s a microblog. It’s a place where he can tweet his … Well, let’s see what’s up there now. I’m going to go to donaldjtrump.com/desk.
LG: That’s really what the URL is?
MC: I’m sorry.
GE: Not a joke. That is the real URL, and … “Congratulations to the great Patriots of Windham, New Hampshire, for their incredible fight to seek out the truth on the massive election fraud, which took place in New Hampshire.” I’m not going to read the rest of it. If you’re missing that in your life, that’s where you can go to get it. And I find the existence of this, it’s obviously humorous. It’s also interesting because it proves simultaneously that Facebook can’t literally sensor Donald Trump. Facebook and Twitter have kicked him off their platforms, but he’s still able to make his statements online.
But on the other hand, it’s not going to have the same juice as … Honestly, forget Facebook. We all know that what really gave Trump statements juice was Twitter. And the biggest reason is us, is journalists. Journalists are hooked up intravenously to Twitter in a way that very few normal people are. We’re obsessed with what we see there. The platform has design elements that make it really easy to comment on things, and amplify them, and then laugh at them, or not laugh at them, and Trump just tapped into Twitter so well, and that was just a way to really inject himself into the media discourse. And, of course, he was the president of United States and he would tweet, “I’m firing the secretary of state,” on Twitter. And so, to some degree, the news media had no choice, but to cover it, but it made it a lot easier to get our attention by going where we were already, in a way that journalists are not checking Facebook for what Donald Trump has to say there, and certainly are not going to be checking from the donaldjtrump.com/desk.
The other thing, of course, is that he’s not president anymore. As much as everybody loves to talk about Donald Trump, see, for example, this podcast, he’s not going to command the same level of media coverage when he’s not the president, which gets us to your question, Lauren, what if he runs again? To which, I say first, can we all just take a breath and enjoy a moment of relative, of quiet. Not making a political statement, I’m just stating a preference for calm. This issue will have been resolved by then. The Facebook decision will have been resolved by then. He will either be permanently banned, which I am skeptical of, but we’ll see. I really don’t know, because this decision surprised me in the first place. Or he’ll be allowed back and then maybe he’ll break the rules again and get kicked off again.