Nowhere was the national divide more apparent than across social media platforms, notably Twitter, on this President’s Day. Even as Parler, the social media platform that has been seen as an alternative outlet for conservatives, made its return on Monday, it was on Twitter where Donald Trump was the focus of some 60,000 plus tweets by the afternoon.
Return of Parler
Parler, which had been dehosted by Amazon in January after users used the platform to plan and then celebrate the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol Building, was back online.
“Parler, the world’s #1 free speech social media platform with over 20 million users, is announcing its official relaunch today, built on sustainable, independent technology and not reliant on so-called ‘Big Tech’ for its operations,” the company said in a statement.
“When Parler was taken offline in January by those who desire to silence tens of millions of Americans, our team came together, determined to keep our promise to our highly engaged community that we would return stronger than ever,” Mark Meckler, Interim CEO at Parler, said in the announcement.
Meckler, who was installed as interim CEO, is the founder of the Tea Party Patriots movement, which was formed after President Barack Obama’s historic win in 2008. Former Parler CEO John Matze was fired from the company on Jan. 29.
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“Donald Trump” Dominated Twitter
Over on Twitter, there were seemingly an equal number of posts on the micro-blogging social platform that showed support for the former president as well as those calling for his arrest. Both sides appeared to be energized following Saturday’s Senate vote to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial.
There were clear Trump supporters who offered well wishes on President’s Day, while others made it clear they hope Mr. Trump runs again in 2024.
The official social media account of Right Side Broadcasting Network (@RSBNetwork) was among that posted, “Happening now in WPB: hundreds erupt in ‘TRUMP’ chant as Donald Trump slowly drives past in motorcade.
Happy Presidents’ Day!”
Critics of the former president were as vocal, and this include actor/activist Billy Baldwin (@BillyBaldwin)
Others expressed frustration and outrage. Among them was Sen. Alex Padilla (@AlexPadilla4Ca) who tweeted, “The best way to ensure accountability is to keep winning at the ballot box. It was deeply frustrating to witness the hypocrisy of 43 of my Republican colleagues in their failure to convict Donald Trump, despite clear evidence of guilt. But the truth always wins out in the end.”
One interesting part of this story is that former President Trump has largely been off social media, and according to a report from the UK’s Sunday Times earlier this month, he is reported to be happier for ditching the platforms.
Trump had been banned from Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms following the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol Building. Trump hasn’t joined Parler or Gab, another social network that has a large right wing following. It is thus unclear if Mr. Trump has seen the outpouring of support, as well as the massive amount of condemnation across Twitter.
Good For Twitter
Even as Twitter may have banned the former president, it likely doesn’t mind that Trump remains in the spotlight on the platform.
“Social media makes money off of people viewing ads and political discussions pull lots of traffic and engagement on the site,” said technology industry analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group.
“So the monetary rewards are at cross purposes to solving this problem,” added Enderle. “When companies are faced with balancing income and doing what’s right they often chose the path of greatest income rather than the ethical path. The fear of regulation has caused these networks to try and act responsibly but they are clearly in conflict and the only lasting fix will either have to come out of regulation or as a result of litigation. If these outcomes are to be avoided the industry must collective come up with a stronger and more consistent set of rules that they will enforce and that governments will consider are good enough, but that door is closing and they may no longer have the time needed to get that done.”