February 3, 2023

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Meta allows Trump back on Facebook and Instagram

Get ready to see Trump posts shared on your Facebook feed again.

Meta announced on Wednesday(Opens in a new window) that it would reactivate Donald Trump’s accounts on both Facebook and Instagram. The move ends the company’s two-year suspension of Trump.

“Two years ago, we took action in extreme and highly unusual circumstances,” said Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, in a statement posted on the company’s website, as of January 6, 2021. According to Clegg, the company’s decision comes after assessing whether a “serious threat to public safety” still existed.

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“We assessed the current environment in accordance with our Crisis Policy Protocol, which included examination of the conduct of the 2022 U.S. midterm elections and expert assessments of the current security environment,” the statement said. “We strongly believe that the risk has decreased sufficiently and that we should therefore stick to the two-year deadline that we have set.”

“As such, we will be reactivating Mr Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks,” it said.

The former president had been suspended from Meta’s platform following the Jan. 6 events in which a pro-Trump mob violently stormed the Capitol to stop Joe Biden from being certified as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, tipping the results in Trump’s favour . Trump had posted before and during the riots Fire Messages(Opens in a new window) to his followers, leading to his suspension from numerous social media platforms.

“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue using our service during this time are simply too great,” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a statement on his Facebook page at the time.

Following the suspension, Meta referred the case to its Board of Supervisors, which upheld the suspension but criticized the company for not clarifying whether the suspension was permanent or temporary. If the latter is the case, the oversight board said Meta should clarify the timeframe in which the suspension should be lifted. Meta responded to the board’s decision by saying it would take two years. Afterwards, the company said it would investigate whether the account still posed a risk to public safety.

With Meta’s announcement of reinstating Trump, the company said it was adding “new guard rails” to “deter repeat offenders” in the future. According to Clegg, if Trump or another recovered account violates Meta’s policies on Facebook or Instagram, there will be stiffer penalties for those repeated violations. Violation of these rules may result in content removal and re-ban from one month to two years, depending on the severity of the violation.

Meta says it will also limit content visibility or reach, or even remove the ability to directly share posts, adding to a public risk even if it’s not directly in violation of its policies. The company shared examples such as content that “delegitimizes an upcoming election or is related to QAnon.”

Meta’s decision to restore Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts comes as no surprise. Clegg hinted at the possibility at an event last September. A few months later, Elon Musk announced that Twitter would reactivate Trump’s account, and also previewed what Meta’s future decision on Trump was likely to be.

Trump struck an exclusivity deal with his own social media platform, Truth Social, so he has yet to tweet since he was snapped back to Twitter last year. However, according to recent reports(Opens in a new window), it was stated that Trump wanted to end this agreement so that he could post on other social media platforms as he advances his 2024 presidential campaign.

Critics of Meta’s decision were quick to point out that since his suspension from Facebook, Trump has increasingly promoted far-right content on Truth Social.

“Today, Meta has chosen to put its own profits ahead of American democracy and the real world safety of its users,” said Nicole Gill, co-founder and chief executive officer of nonprofit advocacy group Accountable Tech, in a statement provided to Mashable. “Let me be absolutely clear: There is absolutely no justification for allowing Donald Trump back on Facebook… This is a man who used the platform to incite a deadly insurgency against the United States – and whose behavior has only become more dangerous years since. Trump has repeatedly used Truth Social to foment violence, spread election lies, and promote domestic terrorist organizations like QAnon.”

Trump currently has 34 million followers on Facebook. In addition, the former president’s Facebook page can now also use Facebook ad campaigns, which were an integral part of his previous presidential campaigns.