Trump’s two-year Facebook ban to limit his fundraising ability for 2022 Republican candidates

WASHINGTON — Facebook on Friday suspended former President Donald Trump from its platform for two years, throwing a wrench in his ability to use social media to rake in funds for any Republicans he backs in the 2022 midterm elections.

The company said it would reinstate Trump on Jan. 7, 2023, ahead of the 2024 presidential election but not in time for the midterms. Trump has been off the platform since the day after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Republican candidates will have to get “creative” in their fundraising efforts rather than relying on Trump’s prowess on social media, according to Bret Jacobson, president of digital advocacy agency for conservatives Red Edge.

“Donald Trump essentially became the big, red ‘easy’ button for a lot of donations,” he said.

“Trump would have remained the easiest quick ticket to fundraising success for the candidates he endorsed, and they would’ve been able to run those ads on Facebook and Instagram to drive pretty quick donating success among trump supporters,” Jacobson said. “At this point Republicans will have to probably pivot more to issue-focused messaging and drawing clear distinctions between themselves and their opponents.”

Banned not just from Facebook, but also Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, Trump has resorted to tweet-like one-liner statements and abrasive fundraising emails to get his message out, while channels such as One America News Network have carried his torch. Trump previously launched a website on which he posted written statements, but pulled it due to low readership this week.

While continuing to peddle the false claims of election fraud that got him banned in the first place — and that allegedly contributed to inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot — Trump has also used his time off social media to send out endorsement blitzes of down-ballot Republican candidates that could use a boost from the former president.

“Facebook’s ruling is an insult to the record-setting 75M people, plus many others, who voted for us in the 2020 Rigged Presidential Election,” Trump said in a statement. “They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win. Our Country can’t take this abuse anymore!”

Without a presence on mainstream social media networks, Trump could find it difficult to effectively communicate his message to a wide audience, which was a key element in his political rise and his assumption of the presidency last time around.

Though Trump was more well-known for his activity on Twitter, he used Facebook to haul in money and spread his message for the 2016 and 2020 campaigns.

“Especially in 2016, Trump effectively used Facebook to go right to voters rather than necessarily having to spend large dollars on TV, and so he found his potential supporters on a much more cost-effective, much more targeted platform,” Jacobson said.

According to Trump’s former campaign manager and digital director Brad Parscale, who was replaced last year ahead of the 2020 election, Facebook was instrumental in the bulk of online fundraising money in the 2016 election, using digital ads that were low in cost to send to potential voters. 

“Facebook and Twitter were the reason we won this thing,” Parscale told Wired just after the 2016 win. “Twitter for Mr. Trump. And Facebook for fundraising.”

The Oversight Board is reviewing Facebook’s response to the Board’s decision in the case involving former US President Donald Trump and will offer further comment once this review is complete.

Facebook warned Trump would face a “strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions” if he continued to violate company rules upon reinstatement in 2023.

Jacobson said Trump’s team will have to be careful upon reinstatement to use the platform to spread his messaging, but stay within the rules that will allow him to continue getting it out and bringing money in.

“He was able to go from dark horse to leader within the GOP in near record time based on using a platform much better than any of his rivals ever had,” Jacobson said.

Contributing: David Jackson

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