Facebook, the world's most popular social network, is set to reinstate one former President Donald Trump’ account after an "indefinite suspension."
After an angry crowd stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, the then-President Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts were suspended by Meta for praising the unrest. Congressional investigators believed that he incited the dissent.
Meta's decision to allow former President Trump to use its apps again would establish a new standard for how the Facebook parent company deals with politicians and international leaders who spread misinformation.
Meta Suspended Trump Following the Capitol Riots
On January 6, 2021, Trump was suspended from Meta platforms following the Capitol riots. At the time, Trump posted unsupported allegations purporting that the election had been rigged, cheered escalating violence, and denounced former Vice President Mike Pence despite the mob threatening to kill him.
Meta's President of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, said the suspension was "an extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances," and that Meta has weighed "whether there remain such extraordinary circumstances that extending the suspension beyond the original two-year period is justified".
Trump Petitioned Meta to Reinstate His Facebook Account
Donald Trump's campaign has asked Meta to allow him to access Facebook once again as he apparently seeks to intensify his 2024 presidential campaign.
In a letter to Meta that was reported by NBC News, Trump advisers said that the restriction "dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse," and should be repealed.
Trump's campaign stressed the value of free speech and petitioned Meta for a "meeting to discuss President Trump’s prompt reinstatement to the platform."
Meta Restored Trump’s Facebook and Instagram Accounts
In response to Trump's petition, Meta pledged to "announce a decision in the coming weeks."
The company initially agreed to review Trump's accounts in January 2023, two years after the suspension, even though the ban had previously been indefinite.
According to a published Meta blog post, the company approved the reinstatement of the former president's Facebook and Instagram accounts.
“Our determination is that the risk [to public safety] has sufficiently receded... As such, we will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks. However, we are doing so with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”
As Nick Clegg, the company's president of global affairs, put it, "open, public, and democratic debate" should be allowed on the company's platforms. Users "should be able to hear from a former President of the United States, and a declared candidate for that office again."
He asserted that "the public should be able to hear everything their leaders are saying - the good, the terrible, and the ugly," in order for people to make wise voting judgments.
Trump Acknowledged Meta’s Decision
Trump praised Meta's decision to reinstate his account in a post on his own platform, Truth Social.
The former president stated that "such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving of retribution."
Controversy Over Meta’s Decision to Restore Trump’s Accounts
After Meta announced the restoration of Donald Trump's accounts, social media users accused Meta of concealing Trump's "violence."
Mehdi Hasan, a journalist, tweeted, "Donald Trump has been indicted for no crimes. Donald Trump has been reinstated to Twitter and Facebook. Donald Trump is running for president again. It's almost as if a violent, Trump-incited insurrection never happened. Or happened, and was then forgotten."
Congressman Adam Schiff accused Facebook of giving Trump the green light to do more harm.
"Trump incited an insurrection. And tried to stop the peaceful transfer of power. He’s shown no remorse. No contrition. Giving him back access to a social media platform to spread his lies and demagoguery is dangerous.
Facebook caved, giving him a platform to do more harm," he tweeted.
Another user mocking Facebook’s ban policy tweeted, "So Trump can call on his supporters to storm the capitol to murder the speaker and his own Vice President through Facebook and be let back while I got a 30 day suspension for a post saying someone once made an actual musical of 'Springtime for Hitler'."