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How Trump’s zombie Facebook page became a weird Internet memorial

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At first glance, Donald Trump’s Facebook page seems like it’s been dead for months.

The former US president’s last post is dated 3.14pm, Jan 6, 2021, the afternoon of the Capitol riots, as he called for “everyone at the US Capitol to remain peaceful”. Not long after he published that, Facebook – and many other social networks – banned him indefinitely for inciting the riots, instantly turning the account into a time capsule of those final, chaotic days before his presidency ended.

But that’s not the whole story. Because like a whale carcass that sinks to the ocean floor, entire ecosystems popping up in the shadow of its slowly decomposing husk, the comments field below that last post is now a vibrant feeding ground where Trump’s fans and critics still converge, months later, to argue, troll and pay homage.

“I don’t know if you see any of these comments, but I wanted to let you know that We the People, miss you and love you Mr. President,” Cyndi Lane commented on April 14 – 98 days after Trump wrote the post to which she was replying. “Hurry back or shall I say, hurry up 2024!”

Lane, 54, is a Missouri wedding coordinator and bridal stylist who’s been voting Republican since the Reagan years. She knew Facebook banned Trump, she told The Times, but left her comment anyway after a news story prompted her to check back in on the account.

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“I had been hopeful that maybe somebody that he knows or works with shows him… that we miss him,” she said. “I almost get tearful thinking about it. I feel like our country is in a mess, and I don’t see it getting any better.”

Trump may still eventually return to the page: After enacting the initial ban, Facebook gave its independent Oversight Board the task of deciding whether he’ll ever be allowed back.

But that decision hasn’t been made yet, and until it is, Trump’s page is effectively open to everyone in the world except Trump himself (along with Trump ally Roger Stone and others who have received permanent bans). So now, in lieu of new posts to argue over, the legions of #MAGA conservatives and #Resistance liberals that once duked it out in the comments below each presidential update are stuck piling in under that last Jan 6 post.

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The post has more than 700,000 comments – most of Trump’s preceding posts received between 20,000 and 200,000 – and new replies come in every few minutes. As the first thing that visitors to Trump’s page encounter, it’s become a sort of ad hoc message board for people eager to engage with even the memory of Trump.

“We need to know you hear us,” one supporter wrote April 15.

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“You killed us, but Biden is curing us,” a critic said April 21.

“Liberals are crazy as hell,” the “Hodgetwins”, two Facebook-famous conservative commentators, wrote April 3.

“I truly wish Facebook would just delete this page and everything on it. I mean… it’s all a bunch of lies and jokes anyways,” someone wrote March 14. Two days later, that got a response: “You’re addicted. You’re on a closed account for someone you hate. Get help.”

Whereas Twitter blocked Trump’s account entirely – there’s no way to see, let alone reply to, his old tweets – Facebook’s approach to banning him created space for this small but surprisingly durable pocket of political commentary.

“It’s been fascinating to, every day or every other day when I have some time, go and look at the people who write him,” said Anthony Anderson, a 69-year-old Angeleno who works in education. He’s “trying to get an understanding of how a Trump person thinks, since I live here in liberal L.A., and there are some Trump enthusiasts, but not many that I know”.

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Anderson started checking in on the page in early January but said the January 6 insurrection was what really drew him in. Since then, “I haven’t stayed away.”

Other Trump critics he sees there spend their time trying to fact-check or debate Trump supporters – something Anderson thinks “doesn’t get anywhere”. Instead, he simply replies to Trump enthusiasts’ most effusive comments with a tongue-in-cheek link to an article: “Leaving and Recovering from Cults”.

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“That’s my subtle resistance,” Anderson said. “That’s all I do.”

Another recurring visitor to the post – a New Zealander who asked not to be identified by name because “there’s a lot of crazy people out there” – described it as an opportunity for him to fact-check Trump supporters, better understand their worldview and get some entertainment in the process.

“You just get sort of – I wouldn’t say sucked into it – but human nature, you just do the reading of, what are people saying?” he said. Sometimes he pushes back on misinformation, but other times he’ll just “drop a one-liner in” to get a reaction.

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“There are a lot of people in there that are just crazies; they’re not there to debate or anything like that,” he said. “And I respect the people that are there to have an argument with you, but there’s a lot of people there. A lot of dating people looking for a date; a lot of people [saying], ‘I can get you bitcoin’ – those opportunists.”

On the other side of those interactions are often vocal conservatives who use their comments to thank Trump for his service, share conspiracies about Joe Biden’s presidential win or rally excitement for a 2024 Trump comeback. For some, posting there fulfills an emotional need.

“For those die-hard Trump fans and supporters, this site can represent a location for a parasocial relationship… [or] a one-sided relationship,” said Natalie Pennington, an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “These people feel like they’re close to Trump even though they don’t know him, which is why you see them commenting in a way that is directed at him, as if he is the one that is reading and writing and responding – even though he’s obviously not responding, since he’s banned.”

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Pennington’s research has explored how people engage with the Facebook accounts of their dead friends and family members. She noted parallels between that grief and what Trump’s most persistent Facebook fans express: “We don’t always have the closure we want, or we have feelings that remain over time…. For people who were upset that Trump lost the election, those feelings aren’t just going to go away four months later. And so the page becomes a place for them to continue those conversations amongst each other.”

That behaviour, she said, is an extension of older, pre-Internet forms of coping: visiting a gravesite, for instance, or attending a funeral.

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But for others, commenting on a months-old post from a banned former president is a pale imitation of the direct line of communication with Trump that they used to have and want back.

“In Telegram you can actually go to some groups and they post the things that Trump writes out because he has a website too,” said Ruth Andrews, 42, referencing an encrypted messaging app and Trump’s new personal website, respectively. In those ways, “I feel like I can still be in touch with what he’s saying.”

Andrews, who lives in Oklahoma and is unemployed, did comment below Trump’s Facebook post one time, though, after his page showed up in her news feed. “I can’t believe Facebook put him back up,” she wrote, echoing a recurring mistake wherein commenters see Trump’s old post, think it’s a new one and assume he’s been permitted to return.

“I thought they deleted the whole [page], kind of like what Twitter did,” Andrews said. “Because on Twitter, you can’t find anything. The whole thing was gone, poof. So I thought Facebook did the same.”

It didn’t, though. Even in Trump’s absence, his page is still up, his final post still visible, its comments section still slowly accumulating replies from people who can’t stop thinking about the man who isn’t there. – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service

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Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey

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Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. The company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents.

Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.

Yahoo Finance notes, “Facebook has had its share of controversies this year.” Starting in January, Meta-owned WhatsApp got caught up in a huge controversy after the messaging app announced a new privacy policy (Terms of Service). WhatsApp said it would collect user information and share it with third-party apps for a better user experience. However, the app gave users no choice but later made modifications to the policy under pressure. Similarly, the company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents showing the company’s problematic practices. It was revealed that Meta-owned Instagram had a negative impact on teenage girls, but the company did almost nothing to rectify the problem.

Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.

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However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.

On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.

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Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal

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In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.

In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.

Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws

It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.

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Russian social media laws

As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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