The Facebook Oversight Board will soon be releasing its ruling on former President Donald Trump’s indefinite suspension from the platform. Based on Trump’s previous posting behavior, we estimate that suspending him from Facebook for 100 days potentially kept over 389 misinformative or harmful posts off the platform. If the oversight board reinstates Trump, it will be not only endorsing his use of Facebook to promote misinformation and attack his critics, all of which contributed to the January 6 insurrection, but it will also be enabling him to pick up where he left off — and likely emboldening him to do even worse.
For years, Facebook has allowed dangerous, racist, and sensational claims to proliferate. The Facebook business model, which values virality above all else, incentivizes misinformation and hate; it is not in Facebook’s financial interest to meaningfully address these problems. Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook, claimed that “Facebook’s systems are not designed to reward provocative content,” but right-wing personalities who frequently post false or misleading content continue to receive high engagement.
The platform has shown a willingness to capitulate to and coddle Trump, despite his clear role as a primary driver of misinformation on the platform. And in return, Trump has given Facebook millions of dollars in advertising revenue. As the Stop Hate for Profit coalition wrote in a release after January 6, access to services like Facebook “is a privilege” not a right, and it’s “one that Donald Trump clearly has forfeited based on an indisputable pattern of behavior that preceded his calls to violence.”
While Facebook waits for the oversight board to deliberate, it has continued to bring in significant money from advertisers. Since Trump’s suspension, Facebook has made over $566 million from advertising from its 20 highest corporate spenders, and nearly $3 billion in overall advertising revenue, according to Pathmatics data analyzed by Media Matters.
Several of these 20 companies have made public statements decrying the events at the Capitol on January 6, but if the oversight board and Facebook reinstate Trump, these companies are also tacitly endorsing Trump’s ability to use the platform to spread dangerous lies.
These are the top 20 companies that spent the most on Facebook advertising since January 6, according to Pathmatics:
- Home Box Office Inc. (HBO)
- Wix.com Inc.
- Procter & Gamble
- Inspire Brands Inc.
- DoorDash Inc.
- LinkedIn Corp.
- Walmart Stores Inc.
- General Mills
- Sony Games
- The Wall Street Journal
- Home Depot
- GrubHub Inc.
- Whitehat Jr. (Whitehat Education Technology LLC)
- Purple Innovation Inc. (formerly Wondergel LLC)
- The Scotts Company LLC
If the oversight board reinstates Trump’s account, these 20 companies -- alongside Facebook -- will be profiting from, or at least lending the appearance of support to, the same kind of hate and lies that helped foment an armed insurrection in the nation’s capital.