Giorgio Viera/AFP/Getty Images; Andrew Harnik/Associated Press
- Trump will soon be allowed on all the major social media platforms he was previously banned from.
- But his supporters often complained that they wished he’d put down his phone more.
- If Trump started posting like he used to, that could push more Republicans to DeSantis.
More than two years after the Capitol attack, former President Donald Trump will soon have access to all the major social media platforms he was banned from — but returning to Facebook or Twitter could ultimately hurt his chances of winning back the presidency in 2024.
“You could say Trump is going to win by getting back on because his voice will be heard louder,” Alison Dagnes, a political science professor at Shippensburg University and expert in political media, told Insider. “But doesn’t he also sort of lose when his voice is heard louder?”
After being banned from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Trump founded Truth Social last year and has exclusively posted on it since, even after Twitter reinstated his account in November following Elon Musk’s takeover.
Rolling Stone reported this week that Trump may be planning a return to Twitter after his exclusivity deal with Truth — which requires him to post on the platform first and wait six hours before posting to another — comes up for renewal in June. And on Wednesday Meta announced it would allow Trump back on its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.
It’s still unclear if Trump will return to Facebook or Twitter, but his use of social media has always been polarizing, even among his own supporters. There are countless lists compiling Trump’s most “outrageous” or “offensive” tweets. While some were amused by the unpredictability, many of Trump’s fans would say they just wanted him to stop tweeting.
Dagnes said that when people are not seeing Trump’s posts on social media, they can forget how shocking and appalling he can be, but Trump returning to those platforms could remind them. She added that even though his behavior on social media appeared to work for him in 2016 — Trump himself even suggested he would not have gotten elected without Twitter — it’s unlikely to play out the same way this time around.
“There’s an exhaustion factor that has settled in,” Dagnes said. “It was new once, but you can’t be new again.”
She said Trump tapped into a deep-seated anger among conservatives, but now there are plenty of lawmakers and right-wing media outlets tapping into that grievance. Republicans who were put off by Trump’s approach have other options to turn to, and are less likely to put up with the things about him that they didn’t like.
“Trump in 2016, to me, unleashed feelings that people have had that they had kept quiet,” she said. “And now that you don’t have to keep it quiet, there can be policies affected in dominant Republican states.”
One of the most prominent examples is another potential candidate for 2024: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Dagnes said she believes DeSantis’s star rose so quickly in the GOP because he picked up that anger that Trump tapped into and ran with it in a policy way.
Unlike Trump, DeSantis is rarely, if ever, making headlines for something he wrote on Twitter. He’s not unpredictable on social media and large swaths of his supporters are not calling for him to put down his phone. He has, however, enacted policies that directly impact the issues many Republicans feel strongly about.
He supported and signed a bill that banned discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity from classrooms. He spent taxpayer dollars flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard as a response to illegal immigration. And his administration has banned “critical race theory” from schools as well as an AP African American studies course.
Essentially, DeSantis has tapped into the same exact grievances as Trump but does so through policies instead of constant tweeting. And if Trump were to return to posting on Facebook and Twitter, he could remind some conservatives that they can have much of what they like about him, but without the tweeting — with DeSantis.