Facebook plans to have a major presence at the Republican National Convention in July, where frontrunner Donald Trump will officially become the party’s nominee for president. The social network has no plans to bow to pressure from protestors and critics of Trump, who’ve urged tech leaders like Google and Microsoft to abandon their convention plans in light of Trump’s controversial rhetoric during the campaign. Google’s YouTube will be streaming the convention, and also offering virtual reality experiences captured directly from the floor in Cleveland.
Facebook’s participation, meanwhile, will include a lounge and plenty of exposure and tie-ins across Facebook’s website and mobile apps. Like Google, Facebook says it’s a neutral partner in the political debate, but feels a duty to keep its users informed of all that’s happening — just as it does every election season and all over the world.
“This support allows Facebook to facilitate an open dialogue among voters, candidates and elected officials during the conventions, just as it has during other critical moments in the U.S. elections and in elections around the world,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s vice president of public policy, said in a statement to Recode. CREDO Action is the activist group that’s been urging Google and others to bail on the GOP’s big event.
But it’s not hard to side with YouTube and Facebook on this one; they operate platforms that are essential for spreading information and news across the United States. Bailing on a major political party’s convention simply because many people strongly dislike Donald Trump would set an alarming precedent — no matter how “hateful” or misguided his rhetoric becomes. Mark Zuckerberg’s sharp critique of Trump’s ideas was a stunning and unexpected moment last month, even if the Facebook CEO never mentioned him by name. But either way, Facebook will be proceeding as normal when the convention kicks off on July 18th.