Ex-Trump supporter explains to James O'Brien how Facebook 'sucked him in'

6 May 2021, 13:52 | Updated: 6 May 2021, 13:54

Caller who abandoned pro-Trump views developed through Facebook

By Fiona Jones

This former Donald Trump supporter explained to James O'Brien how he developed his views through Facebook and how he then "escaped."

The conversation came after Facebook's independent oversight board extended Donald Trump's ban for a further six months, citing the "continuing false narrative of election fraud" and the "attack on the US Capitol" as its reasons.

Twitter has permanently banned the ex-President and has said if he were allowed to remain there would be a "risk of further incitement of violence."

Caller Nathan told James that in 2016 he was pro-Brexit and pro-Trump views: "Facebook got me into a lot of those views, so the videos, the posts, the links to podcast was through the means of Twitter and Facebook when Donald Trump was on there.

"For the two, three years that followed from 2016 onwards I would be telling my peers in school, having debates with teachers, creating a bit of controversy. It got to a point where...I didn't really know what I was defending anymore.

"[Trump] had got that extreme with what he was saying and things sort of spiralled. It came to a point where I had to realise: what was I defending anymore?"

James O'Brien's reaction to Trump's extended ban from Facebook

Nathan said he "didn't want to be wrong" and there were points where he "knew he was wrong" - but then diverted from the path Facebook had encouraged him down.

James said for those whose views are proven demonstrably untrue in any aspect of life, something inside "demands you continue to claim that moon is made of cheese."

Nathan told James "there was no real depth to the argument" but he liked the catchphrases "fake news" and "crooked Hillary" - what he did not like, he said, was the connotations he was aligned with such as racism and homophobia.

James observed, "Had you completely immersed yourself in the online world, you would have actually ended up choosing one over the other, because the online world gives you an existence in which you can continue to claim the moon is made of cheese and avoid the embarrassment of having to acknowledge, even to yourself, that you got something completely wrong."

"I look at it and wouldn't want people to go down those rabbit holes," Nathan said, likening Facebook to quicksand, where the more you struggle against it the more you defend yourself and the deeper you go.

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