Facebook and Trump
When Donald J. Trump was president, the presidency was not a bully enough pulpit for him (“bully” meaning excellent, as Theodore Roosevelt used it), he used social media as no president had before to spread his views and opinions to the public directly, to mock his opponents and praise his friends. When he used Twitter and Facebook to claim victory in the 2020 presidential election when election officials, courts, and even the U.S. Congress said he lost, and to call supporters to the Capitol to try to keep him in office, Facebook and Twitter finally pulled the plug on him.Twitter banned him permanently, but Facebook’s ban is indefinite.
A Facebook Oversight board last week heard arguments about reinstating Citizen Trump and indicated it might happen when it is “safe.”
We’re not sure what “safe” means, but we think Facebook should consider reinstating Trump’s privileges with the understanding that those privileges could be revoked again if its standards are abused again.
It is up to Facebook to set up those standards, a mighty task considering how many millions of users and posts it handles each day. It may be like trying to slow down the flow of water over Niagara Falls.
But Facebook is a private company, with the right to establish rules for use of its service. Its moderators should be ready to apply those rules fairly to all of its users, from Donald Trump to your grandmother.
We wouldn’t expect Facebook to determine the truth of each post. The theory of the free marketplace of ideas is that when all opinions are freely expressed, the truth will emerge.
So, let Trump back online, and let him offer his opinions to be tested for truth, if he follows the rules like everyone else.