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At first glance, Donald Trump’s Facebook page seems like it’s been dead for months.
The former president’s last post is dated 3:14 p.m. Jan. 6, 2021, the afternoon of the Capitol riots, as he called for “everyone at the U.S. 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 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.
“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).