The American Civil Liberties Union sustained heavy rhetorical fire on Wednesday after posting a tweet defending Meta's decision to reinstate former President Donald Trump to its Facebook and Instagram social media platforms.
"This is the right call," the nonprofit civil liberties advocacy organization tweeted Wednesday. "Like it or not, President Trump is one of the country's leading political figures and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech."
The ACLU's statement is consistent with the stance the organization adopted on May 10, 2022, concerning Elon Musk's announcement of his intention to reinstate Trump to Twitter's platform. In that statement, ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero said, "You'd be hard-pressed to find a more steadfast opponent of Trump and his policies than the ACLU, but Elon Musk's decision to re-platform President Trump is the right call. When a handful of individuals possess so much power over the most important forums for political speech, they should exercise that power with restraint."
In commentary on ACLU's website published just days after the Capitol riot of January 6, 2021, Romero called for President Trump's impeachment, saying, "President Trump [when acting in his official capacity] doesn’t have unfettered free speech rights to subvert the results of a fair and free election."
Trump responded to news of his pending reinstatement on Truth Social, suggesting his deplatforming had cost Meta "billions" and insisting no president should be subjected to a similar fate.
Retribution for ACLU's tweet praising Trump's reinstatement to social media giant Meta's platforms was relentless and swift. The attacks stemmed primarily from progressive figures, with praises emanating largely from conservatives and libertarians.
"Bad Feminist" author Roxane Gay expressed surprise at the ACLU's stance, noting that former President Trump has access to alternative venues for self-expression (e.g., Trump's social media platform, Truth Social).
The Hollywood Reporter's editor at large, Kim Masters, indicated she may no longer donate to the organization.
Commentator Keith Olbermann added his voice to the backlash, suggesting the ACLU had mistaken government-related free speech suppression with private companies' rights to operate as they see fit.
Figures on the right-leaning side of the political spectrum praised the ACLU's stance, heralding it as a victory for First Amendment-related liberties. Responses ranged from mocking those decrying the ACLU's stance to more thoughtful support.
Republican activist Scott Presler's response was simple and direct. "Excellent," he said.
National security expert and best-selling author Brigette Gabriel also expressed her agreement with ACLU's statement. "Correct," she tweeted.
Meta's global affairs president, Nick Clegg, told Fox News "Special Report" anchor Bret Baier that former President Trump's reinstatement is conditional. If he were to violate the site's terms of service, he could face a second ban.
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