After defending Meta’s decision not to reinstate former President Donald Trump on its Facebook and Instagram platforms, the American Civil Liberties Union was subject to a lot of rhetorical criticism.
The non-profit civil liberties advocacy group tweeted Wednesday, “This is the right call.” “Whether you like it or not, President Trump has been a leading figure in the country’s political landscape and the public is keen to hear his speech.”
This statement by the ACLU is consistent with its May 10, 2022 position regarding Elon Musk’s announcement that he would reinstate Trump to Twitter. Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director, stated that it was difficult to find a more staunch opponent to Trump’s policies than the ACLU. However, Elon Musk’s decision not to re-platform Donald Trump is the right move. A few individuals have so much power at the most important forums of political speech, they should be careful with their use of that power.
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Romero, in a commentary published on the ACLU’s website just days following the Capitol Riot of January 6, 2021, called for President Trump to be impeached. He stated that “President Trump [when acting as his official capacity] doesn’t have unfettered freedom speech rights to subvert results of a fair, free election.”
Trump said that his deplatforming cost Meta “billions”, and that no president should suffer a similar fate to Trump’s news about his reinstatement on Truth Social.
ACLU’s praise for Trump’s reinstatement on Meta’s platforms was met with swift and relentless retribution. These attacks were primarily directed at progressive figures. However, praises for conservatives and libertarians were a majority.
Roxane Gay, author of “Bad Feminist”, expressed shock at the ACLU’s position, noting that former President Trump had access to other venues for self expression (e.g. Trump’s social media platform Truth Social).
Kim Masters, the editor at large of The Hollywood Reporter, stated that she would no longer donate to the organisation.
Keith Olbermann, a commentator, joined the backlash and suggested that the ACLU had confused government-related suppression of free speech with private companies’ right to operate as they choose.
Figures from the right-leaning end of the political spectrum applauded the ACLU’s position, hailing it as a victory in support of First Amendment-related freedoms. The responses ranged from ridiculing those who decry the ACLU’s position to more thoughtful support.
Scott Presler, a Republican activist, responded in a simple and direct way. He said, “Excellent.”
Brigette Gabriel, a national security expert and best-selling author, also agreed with the ACLU’s statement. She tweeted, “Correct.”
Nick Clegg (Meta’s global affairs president) told Fox News’ “Special Report”, Bret Baier, that ex-President Trump’s reinstatement was conditional. He could be banned again if he violates the terms of service.