Four months after former President Donald Trump was banned from most mainstream social media platforms, he returned to the web last Tuesday with “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” essentially a blog for his thoughts. .
A week after the unveiling, social media data suggests things are not going well.
The ex-president’s blog has attracted a considerably smaller audience than his once-powerful social media accounts, according to engagement data compiled with BuzzSumo, a social media analytics company. The data suggests that while Trump remains a political force, his online footprint still hinges on his return to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Donald J. Trump’s office is limited – users can’t comment on or interact with actual posts beyond sharing them on other platforms, an action few people do, according to the data.
Trump’s new blog drew just over 212,000 engagements, defined as backlinks and social interactions – including likes, shares, and comments – received on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit. Before the ban, a single tweet from Trump was typically liked and retweeted hundreds of thousands of times.
Blog posts come in the form of statements which are also sent to supporters by email. In multiple Daily Notes, Trump attacked his political enemies and supported staunch supporters, continued to push false allegations and conspiracy theories, and spoke out on the daily news.
Trump’s bans cost him the ability to connect with millions of people: 88 million followers on Twitter, 32 million on Facebook and 24 million on Instagram. Trump only had about 3 million subscribers on YouTube, but his videos steadily racked up millions of views.
A CNBC Analysis of Trump’s Tweets in January, his most popular tweets spread misinformation. But the conspiracy theories and slurs the former president has been spreading via his blog don’t seem to evolve the way they did when Trump took advantage of the dual platform of the White House and mainstream social media. Trump called his statements a “more elegant” alternative to the tweet, telling Greg Kelly from Newsmax in March: “I like it better than Twitter. In fact, they did us a favor.
The most popular actions of Trump’s new content have come from conservative and activist media. The first blog post, in which Trump denounced the Facebook Oversight Board’s decision to uphold its ban on Facebook, garnered just 16,000 pledges.
Could people share Trump’s posts in other ways? Not likely. Another popular sharing method, posting screenshots of articles, is also not particularly popular with Trump’s blog posts, averaging a few thousand shares per article, according to a text search by image using CrowdTangle, Facebook’s social media analysis tool.
This is far from Trump’s first experience with blogging. Trump’s previous blog, kept in the mid-2000s on the website of the now defunct for-profit real estate school Trump University, followed a similar structure but was allegedly written by ghosts.
A heavy blow was dealt to the reach of the most recent blog last week when Twitter opened an account with more than 2,100 followers who mainly shared Trump’s blog posts. Despite a note in his bio that explicitly stated: “No Tweet from Donald J. Trump,” Twitter permanently suspended the account.
“We will take enforcement action on accounts whose apparent intention is to replace or promote content affiliated with a suspended account,” a Twitter spokesperson said.
Trump was temporarily or permanently banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in the wake of what social media companies said was his glorification of rioters on Capitol Hill on Jan.6. Trump’s Twitter ban is permanent, and his temporary YouTube suspension will be lifted when the company decides the threat of violence is no longer imminent. The length of his currently “indefinite” Facebook suspension will be decided by the company over the next six months, as ordered by the Facebook Oversight Board last week.
The removal of Trump’s platform has sparked a political outcry, mostly from conservative politicians and pundits who argue that sweeping bans are just the latest example of social media censorship against conservative voices. Research has systematically found no evidence of anti-conservative bias on the part of the most popular social media platforms.
The low number of Trump blog engagements seems to suggest that the practice of de-platforming, or severing a user from their subscribers and thus separating common subscriber networks, is largely effective and can be used to reduce hate speech and the glorification of violence on mainstream platforms. It also apparently limits a public figure’s ability to attract a similar audience to an alternative platform.
A limited but growing body of academic research suggests that while platform removal can clean up a platform and reduce the size of extremist communities, there are unintended consequences when a community migrates to its own self-platform. -hosted.
Jeremy Blackburn, assistant professor of computer science at Binghamton University in New York who co-wrote some of this research, said Trump’s decision was even more restrictive.
“In the case of Trump’s new platform, it’s so technologically primitive that there’s even no way for its supporters to migrate,” Blackburn said. “Who cares about a platform where you can’t even own the libraries? There are many other newsletters that people have been adding to their spam boxes for years.
However, Trump’s team is not giving up on retrieving its messages in front of a large and engaged audience. After ridiculing the new blog, Trump’s senior adviser Jason Miller told his followers to hang on.
“President Trump’s website is a great resource for finding his latest statements and highlights from his first term, but it’s not a new social media platform,” Miller tweeted. “We will have more information coming up on this front in the very near future.”