In the last week or so, Donald Trump — in unusual bouts of self-awareness — seemed to acknowledge on two occasions that he won’t be the President in 2021. “And [Joe Biden] is going to be president because some people don’t love me, maybe,” Trump told Sean Hannity last week. “And all I’m doing is doing my job.” Meanwhile, he was also asked during a trip in Arizona if he expected Biden to finish The Wall once elected President. “No, he will complete it. You’d have a revolution if they didn’t do it.”
Interesting. Trump clearly has not conceded the election, and he will no doubt continue his attempts to delegitimize the vote and make hundreds of excuses for his loss in advance of it, but at least he acknowledges that winning in November is unlikely.
It may also explain why social media networks are taking a slightly more aggressive approach to Trump on social media, beginning in May when Twitter began labeling some of Trump’s tweets. Facebook, caving to pressure from advertisers, decided to follow suit with labels, while Reddit has purged the once popular /TheDonald subbreddit, Twitch has temporarily banned Donald Trump’s channel, and Snapchat said it would no longer promote Trump content. YouTube, meanwhile, has also banned a number of right-wing channels belonging to the likes of David Duke and Richard Spencer.
It’s a good first step, although a better step would be for social media networks to apply the same rules to the President as they apply to everyone else, in which case the President would have been banned dozens of times. Twitter might have also acted faster over the weekend than Trump himself, who took three hours to pull a retweet in which one of his own supporters said a “white power” in a video (Trump left it up for three hours because, apparently, he could not be reached out on the golf course, which — again — may explain why he’s a threat to national security).
But why now? Cynically, you might say that social-media networks and advertisers themselves are responding to capitalistic pressures and are making these moves to avoid financial fall-out, that it’s all in their own self-interests, their own self-preservation. That is actually 100 percent true! Mark Zuckberberg only cares about his own bottom line, just as the corporations that pulled their ad spending off of Facebook — companies like Chipotle, HP, Pfizer, Puma, Adidas, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Conagra, Denny’s, Ford, Starbucks, and Unilever, among others — are doing themselves. They are all caving to capitalistic pressures.
However, the less cynical — and also true — view of the situation is that activists in the wake of George Floyd’s murder have applied those capitalistic pressures. The BLM protestors have contributed to Trump’s falling poll numbers; protestors bent capitalism to their will. Protestors weakened the President’s position and changed the financial equation to make it more profitable for companies to side with activists instead of Trump supporters. (Hell, even WalMart is pulling All Lives Matter T-Shirts. WALMART).
In other words: Don’t thank the companies for pulling their advertising dollars from Facebook. Don’t thank Facebook for doing the bare minimum. Thank the protestors for strong-arming a force even more powerful than Trump: Capitalism, and specifically, the (dwindling) discretionary income of 18-49 year olds. You want to make sh*t happen? Vote, not only at the ballot box, but with your wallets.
Header Image Source: Getty Images