Meta expresses Trump to be permitted back on Facebook, Instagram
Two years after he was banned due to the 2021 US Capitol insurrection, social media giant Meta announced on Tuesday that it would soon reinstate former president Donald Trump's accounts on Facebook and Instagram with "new guardrails."
Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said in a statement, “We will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks.” He added that the move would come with “new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”
Clegg stated that the Republican leader, who has already declared his candidacy for president in 2024, could be suspended for up to two years in the future for each violation of platform policies.
Trump’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment, so it was unclear when or if he would return to the platforms.
However, the 76-year-old businessman responded in typical bullish fashion, boasting that Facebook had lost “billions of dollars in value” without him.
“Such a thing should never happen again to a sitting President or anyone else who does not deserve to be punished!” on his Truth Social platform, he stated.
A day after the January 6, 2021 uprising, in which a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in Washington to halt the certification of his election defeat to Joe Biden, Facebook banned Trump.
The former reality TV star had been falsely claiming for weeks that he had lost the presidential election, and he was eventually impeached for starting the riot.
Trump’s attorney Scott Gast stated last week that Meta had “dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse” in a letter asking for the ban to be overturned.
He requested a meeting to discuss Trump’s “prompt reinstatement to the platform” on Facebook, where he had 34 million followers. He argued that Trump’s position as the leading candidate for the Republican nomination in 2024 warranted the lifting of the ban.
Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, stated that Meta was making “the right call” by allowing Trump to rejoin the social network.
Romero stated in a press release, “Whether you like it or not, President Trump is one of the leading political figures in the country, and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech.”
“In fact, some of Trump’s most offensive posts on social media ended up being crucial evidence in lawsuits filed against him and his administration.”
Romero claims that the ACLU has brought more than 400 lawsuits against Trump.
Engine for extremism?
However, advocacy organizations like Media Matters for America strongly oppose allowing Trump to take advantage of Facebook’s social networking reach.
Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, stated, “Make no mistake – by allowing Donald Trump back on its platforms, Meta is refueling Trump’s misinformation and extremism engine.”
In addition to affecting Instagram and Facebook users, “this also presents intensified threats to civil society and an existential threat to the democracy of the United States as a whole.”
In December, a committee in the US Congress made a recommendation that Trump be prosecuted for his involvement in the attack on the US Capitol.
After the riot, his 88 million-follower Twitter account was also blocked, requiring him to communicate via Truth Social, which has fewer than five million followers.
Trump’s use of social media and his vast digital reach were partly to blame for his shocking victory in 2016.
According to Andrew Selepak, a professor of social media at the University of Florida, Facebook doesn’t want to fight Trump’s supporters in Congress, who are likely to protest if he is kept off the platform.
Selepak wrote in a tweet, “Trump needs the platform for fundraising, and Facebook doesn’t want to be called before Congress.”
Trump’s removal from Facebook has enraged conservative republican leaders, and a group of Democrats in Congress urged Meta to extend the ban to keep “dangerous and unfounded election denial content off its platform” last month.
Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, reinstated Trump’s account in November of last year, just days after Trump said he would run for president again. He hasn’t posted yet.