Meta recently announced that it would allow ex-President Donald Trump access to social media platforms Instagram and Facebook for the first time in two years.
According to Meta’s Nick Clegg, the company determined that the risk posed by Trump’s social media presence has “sufficiently receded.” As a result, restrictions placed on Trump’s account would be lifted “in the coming weeks.” Today, his Facebook and Instagram accounts have been officially reinstated. Trump is back on social media again.
While Trump is playing hard to get, and did not return to Twitter so far, he will likely use all social media at his disposal to fire at his political opponents.
But what exactly does Trump’s return to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter mean in the context of electoral campaigns and social media usage? How, if at all, will other candidates, be they from the Republican or Democratic party, use social media platforms to attract voters and strengthen their campaign tactics?
Trump’s return to social media: a powerful and dangerous combo
Before Meta and Twitter’s ban on Trump, the former head of state was one of the most aggressive social media users. This pattern is expected to return in the upcoming months as the election season intensifies. Now that Trump has Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at his disposal in addition to Truth Social, he can fire at his political opponents from all sides.
Biden, who is expected to announce his re-election campaign in the coming weeks, is on social media and will also use social media platforms to attract voters. The current head of state, unlike Trump, does not use Twitter for ad hominem attacks. So far, Biden has been using the social media to promote his administration’s policies and achievements while maintaining his image of America’s “good guy.”
Trump does not shy away from attacking anyone who disagrees with his message—from the members of his own party, to Democrats, to the members of the media. And his attacks on powerful women has been consistent social media strategy in the past decade.
From 2015 to 2020, Trump released a series of demeaning comments criticizing MSNBC’s TV show “Morning Joe” and its anchors.
Trump called the show a “Poorly rated Morning Psycho,” “low rated (very) Morning Psycho (Joe),” “Morning Joke,” “sad & “Nobody is watching,” and a “waste of time.”
In 2016, after the former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado criticized Trump for his alleged sexist and misogynistic remarks, Trump published tweets calling her “a con,” “worst Miss U.,” and “disgusting (check out sex tape and past).”
Will presidential candidates be more aggressive on social media?
The election campaign has already started. Trump’s return to social media has given him access to the internet’s Holy Trinity, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Will he double down on his aggressive approach, or will he behave according to Meta’s community standards?
“In the event that Mr. Trump posts further violating content, the content will be removed and he will be suspended for between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation,” wrote Clegg in a blog post. However, even with the company’s new and improved protocol, one could expect that Trump will find his way around the rules.
During his term as President, Biden never had to deal with Trump’s social media aggressiveness since the former leader was banned from social media outlets at the beginning of Biden’s administration.
Now that Trump is returning with full force, and given his past as a social media bully, he will likely use social media to launch attacks at opponents. Will the President maintain his Twitter decorum in the face of Trump’s social media insults?
Although Biden is not a Twitter nightmare like Trump, Biden will not sit still while the candidate fires insults at him. For example, after his State of the Union address, President Biden’s team posted a somewhat sassy video of all Republicans who wish to repeal lower costs and the Inflation Reduction Act.
This aggressive strategy will most certainly continue and develop throughout the 2024 campaign. Still, Biden is not likely to sacrifice his image of “the good guy” by uploading mean and degrading posts about Republicans.
There has been some speculation that Florida governor Ron De Santis will run for President in 2024. His approach to Twitter is closer to Biden’s than Trump’s. Although he criticizes politicians and the media, he so far did not cross the line to be openly sexist and insulting.
Still, there is still a reason to believe that DeSantis won’t hold back if anyone attacks him on social media.
In 2021 DeSantis’ Press Secretary, Christina Pushaw, was banned for 12 hours from Twitter after being accused of “abusive behavior.”
Pushaw has been called an “aggressive Twitter user,” and her social media tactics will likely harden Ron DeSantis’ approach to platforms during his potential presidential campaign.
As the candidates sharpen their campaign strategies in the coming months, the way social media is used as a communication tool in election campaigns will only intensify. Given Trump’s track record in social media usage, candidates will not sit still while the candidate unleashes offensive and degrading tweets.