Trump allies react with fury at Facebook ruling: ‘It’s a sad day for America’

Others see opportunity, pitching ban as part of platform to retake Congress

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 05 May 2021 17:13
Mark Meadows says decision to uphold Trump Facebook ban is a sad day for America
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Supporters of Donald Trump have reacted with fury to the decision by the Facebook Oversight Board to uphold the former president’s ban from the platform.

A tweet from the Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee simply read: “Pathetic.”

Speaking on Fox News, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said: “It’s a sad day for America.”

“It’s a sad day for Facebook,” he added. “Because I can tell you a number of members of Congress are now looking at do they break up Facebook, do they make sure that they don’t have a monopoly?”

Mr Meadows continued by saying that there are “two different standards: one for Donald Trump and one for a number of other people that are on their sites and suggesting more nefarious things than what the [former] president has been accused of often go unnoticed.”

He also noted that the “wild, wild west” regulatory environment that Facebook and other companies have enjoyed would likely now change.

Senator Josh Hawley, who recently released a book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, tweeted: “Here’s a real life example of the tyranny of Big Tech- a fake Facebook court decides Facebook can do whatever Facebook wants, in this case, suspending Donald Trump w/o process or standards. That’s what monopolies do. Break them up.”

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy sees political opportunity as a result of the decision.

“Facebook is more interested in acting like a Democrat Super PAC than a platform for free speech and open debate,” he wrote. “If they can ban President Trump, all conservative voices could be next. A House Republican majority will rein in big tech power over our speech.”

Representative Lauren Boebert concurred, thanking Facebook in a tweet for “securing the GOP majority come 2022”. In a separate tweet from her personal account she said that the Facebook Oversight Board should not be more powerful than the US Constitution.

Senator Marsha Blackburn echoed: “Facebook’s decision to uphold its ban on President Donald Trump is extremely disappointing. It’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg views himself as the arbiter of speech.”

Tom Cotton, senator for Arkansas, invoked George Orwell, writing: “Is there anything more Orwellian than Facebook’s ‘independent oversight board’, stocked with left-wing academics, deciding issues of free speech?”

Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro said: “This ‘decision’ is absurd.”

He added: “The best part here is that Facebook designed the Oversight Board to relieve responsibility on them to determine compliance with their own standards. So the Oversight Board promptly threw the ball back into Facebook’s court.”

In a follow-up post, Mr Shapiro levelled charges of a double-standard in that the board says Facebook was right to suspend Mr Trump because he violated their rule against praise or support of people engaged in violence, but in 2020, he claimed “nearly the entire media and Democratic Party praised people engaged in the most costly riots in US history”.

Since the decision was handed down at 9am ET, the former president released an emailed statement in which he lashed out at Liz Cheney, Mike Pence, and Mitch McConnell, reiterating his false claims regarding the 2020 election.

Mr Trump makes no mention of Facebook in that statement but highlighted that he would continue to repeat the “unfounded narrative of electoral fraud” that created “an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible” that led to the ban in the first place.

In a later blog post, the former president lashed out at Facebook, Twitter, and Google, echoing congressional Republicans’ threats that they would face a political price for silencing him.

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