Trump’s Return to Twitter and Facebook Will Fuel More Political Violence

By RockedBuzz 5 Min Read

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His incitement continues to stir attacks, from state elections to FBI field offices.

Soon after Elon Musk purchased Twitter in late October, the tech mogul reinstated Donald Trump’s account, which the company had shut down permanently after Trump used Twitter to help instigate the January 6 insurrection. The twice-impeached ex-president hasn’t tweeted again yet, instead sticking to posting on his own far less influential and financially shaky Truth Social platform. But he is planning to use Twitter again soon and his presidential campaign is actively seeking his reinstatement on Facebook, according to news reports this week.

As Trump eyes the White House in 2024, his desire to once again exploit social media platforms with vast reach is no mystery. A tsunami of political advertising and misinformation deployed by his 2016 campaign on Facebook was widely credited as key to that year’s election victory. He later used Twitter not only to galvanize a delusional movement to overturn his 2020 election loss but also to distract from and dominate news cycles throughout his four years in office.

Trump’s influence is comparatively tiny via Truth Social; he has under 5 million followers there, versus more than 88 million on Twitter and 34 million on Facebook. Yet, that has not prevented him from further stirring random extremist violence with lies, deranged conspiracy theories, and demonization of his alleged enemies. Trump long ago honed this incitement technique. It is a destabilizing and ongoing danger to the nation—and one certain to scale back up with Trump’s return to mainstream social media.

Political violence provoked by Trump and extremist allies who now mimic his playbook has indeed continued ever since the attack on the Capitol and Trump’s banishment from Twitter and Facebook. Central to the phenomenon, of course, is the endless lie from Trumpworld that the 2020 election was supposedly stolen through fraud. (Many official investigations and court proceedings proved it was not, and Trump knew so.)

In the past few weeks, that false narrative apparently motivated a series of shooting attacks at the homes of four Democratic officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The alleged ringleader was 39-year-old Solomon Peña, a defeated GOP candidate for the state legislature, who, according to court documents detailed by the Washington Post, is accused of hiring several gunmen as well as participating in the drive-by attacks. No one was injured in the late-night shootings, but bullets that pierced through drywall at one house narrowly missed a state senator’s sleeping 10-year-old daughter.

Peña lost in November by a nearly 2-to-1 margin but claimed the election was rigged against him, according to authorities, and had first gone to the homes of Democratic officials to confront them verbally. Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina told the Post he has no doubt that Peña was motivated by Trump’s false claims of election fraud: Peña regularly expressed extreme views on social media, Medina said, and boasted of attending Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, 2021. “The individual that we’re charging believed in that conspiracy,” Medina told the Post. “He did believe that his election was unfair and he did escalate and resort to violence as a means to find justice.”

The violent conspiracy in New Mexico is just the latest chilling example. In October, an aggrieved and possibly delusional 42-year-old man broke into the San Francisco home of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, where he brutally attacked her elderly husband Paul with a hammer. The suspect, David DePape, had been fixated on far-right conspiracy theories and propaganda online. According to charging documents, he told investigators his intention was to kidnap the House speaker and “break her kneecaps” while interrogating her. Among the gear he brought for his hostage plan were zip ties, an item carried by multiple January 6 perpetrators. He further stated that he regarded Nancy Pelosi as the “leader of the pack” of lies told by the Democratic Party, and that he saw himself as similar to Americans during the Revolutionary War, “fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender.”

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