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ACLU faces friendly fire after defending Facebook and Instagram’s decision to reinstate Trump

ACLU faces friendly fire after defending Facebook and Instagram’s decision to reinstate Trump

The American Civil Liberties Union came under heavy rhetorical fire Wednesday after it posted a tweet defending Meta’s decision to reinstate former President Donald Trump on its Facebook and Instagram social media platforms.

“This is the right call,” the civil liberties nonprofit tweeted Wednesday. “Like it or not, President Trump is one of the country’s leading political figures, and the public has a great interest in hearing his speech.”

u201cThis is the right call. Like it or not, President Trump is one of the leading political figures in the country and the public has a great interest in hearing his speech.u201d

— ACLU (@ACLU) 1674691550

The ACLU’s statement is consistent with the position the organization took on May 10, 2022 regarding Elon Musk’s announcement of his intention to reinstate Trump on the Twitter platform. In that statement, ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said, “You’d be hard-pressed to find a more staunch opponent of Trump and his policies than the ACLU, but Elon Musk’s decision to return to President Trump’s platform is the right call. When a handful of individuals wield so much power over the most important forums for political discourse, they should exercise that power sparingly.”

In a comment on the ACLU website posted just days after the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot, Romero called for President Trump’s impeachment, saying, “President Trump [when acting in his official capacity] does not have unlimited free speech rights to subvert the results of a free and fair election.”

Trump responded to news of his pending reinstatement at Truth Social, suggesting that its deplatforming had cost Meta “billions” and insisting that no president should suffer a similar fate.

Retribution for the ACLU’s tweet praising Trump’s reinstatement on social media giant Meta’s platforms was unrelenting and swift. The attacks came mostly from progressive figures, with praise emanating largely from conservatives and libertarians.

“Bad Feminist” author Roxane Gay expressed surprise at the ACLU’s position, noting that former President Trump has access to alternative sites for personal expression (eg, the social media platform of Trump, Social Truth).

u201c@ACLU There are other places to talk. Surprised you say that.u201d

— ACLU (@ACLU) 1674691550

The Hollywood Reporter’s editor-in-chief, Kim Masters, indicated that she is no longer able to donate to the organization.

u201c@ACLU You are really testing my commitment to remain a donor.u201d

— ACLU (@ACLU) 1674691550

Commentator Keith Olbermann added his voice to the backlash, suggesting that the ACLU had confused government-related suppression of free speech with the rights of private companies to operate as they see fit.

u201c@ACLU It’s hard to believe that you wronged a private website that operates under its Terms of Service and that the government is trying to take away 1st amendment rights.u201d

— ACLU (@ACLU) 1674691550

Figures on the right side of the political spectrum praised the ACLU’s stance, heralding it as a victory for First Amendment freedoms. Responses ranged from derision of those who denounce the ACLU’s position to more thoughtful support.

Republican activist Scott Presler’s response was simple and straightforward. “Excellent,” he said.

u201c@ACLU Excellent.u201d

— ACLU (@ACLU) 1674691550

National security expert and best-selling author Brigette Gabriel also expressed agreement with the ACLU’s statement. “Correct,” he tweeted.

u201c@ACLU Correct.u201d

— ACLU (@ACLU) 1674691550

Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, told Fox News’ “Special Report” host Bret Baier that former President Trump’s reinstatement is conditional. If you violate the site’s terms of service, you could face a second ban.

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