Meta to Reinstate Trump’s Facebook and Instagram Accounts

Just over two years after Donald J. Trump’s account was hacked Suspended from Facebook and InstagramMeta, the owner of the platform, speak on Wednesday that it would restore the former president’s access to social media services.

Meta said Mr Trump, whose Facebook account was most followed when he was banned, will “in the coming weeks” regain access to his accounts that total hundreds of millions of followers. In November, Mr. Trump’s account also restored on Twitterbanned him since January 2021, collectively giving the former president more loudspeakers as he campaigned for the White House in 2024.

Meta suspended Mr. Trump from its platforms on January 7, 2021, a day after hundreds of people storming the Capitol on his behalf, saying his posts risked inciting further violence. Mr. Trump’s accounts on other mainstream social media services, including YouTube and Twitter, were also deleted that week.

But Meta, which critics accused of censoring Mr. Trump and other conservative voices, said on Wednesday that it had decided to reverse the ban because it determined that it was a risk to public safety. has “reduced significantly” since January 2021. The company added that it will add balustrades to “prevent recidivism” in the future.

“The public can hear what their politicians are saying – the good, the bad and the bad – so they can make informed decisions,” said Nick Clegg, Meta president of global affairs. Choose wisely at the ballot box. “But that doesn’t mean there’s no limit to what people can say on our platform.”

In a post on the right-wing social media platform Truth Social, Mr Trump said the “take down” would “never happen to a sitting President or anyone else who doesn’t deserve to be punished!”

Meta is at the heart of the debate about freedom of expression online and who gets to decide what content can be posted and what should be removed. The ban on Mr Trump’s accounts is a stark demonstration of the influence of social media platforms and whether they have too much control and influence over public discourse online.

Mr. Trump’s upcoming Facebook and Instagram account restoration was immediately criticized by Democratic lawmakers and disinformation experts, who said the move would allow the former president to spread the word. transmit divisive and inflammatory posts.

“The Capitol community is still picking up pieces from the January 6 uprising that Trump sparked, and now he’s returning to the virtual crime scene,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky, a deputy director. and is a Democrat of Illinois, said in a statement. an email statement.

But Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Meta’s decision was “the right call” because Mr. Trump is a leading political figure and the public is interested in hearing. he spoke. “While the government cannot force platforms to perform certain speeches, that does not mean that the largest platforms should engage in political censorship,” said Romero.

It is unclear whether Mr. Trump, who said in November that he looking for the White House again in 2024, will be active again on Facebook and Instagram. He started Social Truthin which he has a financial stake and he is obliged to make his posts available exclusively for six hours before he can share them on other sites, according to a profile with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Trump can immediately post to any website if the messages involve political messages, fundraisers or initiatives calling for votes.

Mr. Trump has not posted on Twitter since the platform reinstated him in November. Truth Social is currently the only social network where Mr. Trump is active. YouTube has not said whether it will allow the former president to return to the platform.

Truth Social and YouTube did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a Meta blog post on Wednesday, Mr. Clegg said the company’s executives were wrong to allow more speech on Facebook and Instagram than less, even if the posts that is “offensive or untrue”.

But Meta is taking steps to prevent future problems, Mr. Clegg said. Mr. Trump could face another ban for “between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation,” Clegg said.

Mr Clegg said Meta is looking at taking other measures against people who may not have explicitly violated its rules but contribute to “the kind of risk that happened on January 6”. For example, posts related to the QAnon conspiracy theory or election commissions may be “underrated” on Facebook and Instagram feeds, meaning they will be pushed down and have less visibility.

Meta may also temporarily restrict access to its advertising tools to repeat offenders and remove the reshare button from posts that violate its rules, effectively limiting its ability to their spread. Posts may also be restricted from being algorithmically recommended to other users. But the company will still show posts that violate its rules on the account’s page, even if it restricts what content is shared.

When Meta banned Mr. Trump in January 2021, Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, said the president’s use of Facebook “to offer condolences rather than condemnation of the actions of his supporters at the National Palace.” society has worried people in the US and around the world. .”

The company removed some of Trump’s posts regarding the Capitol riots and initially froze his account for a 24-hour period. That was soon expanded to “indefinitely”.

Since then, Meta has struggled to explain the Trump removal process or its policies own standards for public figures who violate its rules. Critics have criticized the company for having double standards on certain celebrities, saying that the biggest decisions largely depend on Mr. Zuckerberg’s whims.

In May 2021, the Board of Supervisors, an external body made up of international experts, academics and former politicians, Find that Mr. Zuckerberg was right to suspend Mr. Trump’s account. But it said the company needed to decide on a specific length of time for that suspension.

The panel said Mr Trump’s indefinite suspension was “inappropriate” because it was not a punishment explicitly enshrined in Facebook’s user rules. In its ruling, the board asked the company to create clearer guidelines and effectively make decisions about how to handle Mr. Trump’s accounts for Meta executives. .

In June 2021, Meta said it would suspend Mr. Trump from its services because at least two years and will review the decision by the end of January 2023.

In recent years, Mr. Zuckerberg has given more control over policy decisions at Meta to Mr. Clegg, former British deputy prime minister and career politician. In February 2022, Mr. Clegg was promoted to Meta’s president of global affairs, effectively overseeing the company’s most important policy decisions.

Although Mr. Clegg had built a process and team to handle those issues, the matter stopped with Mr. Zuckerberg’s approval. Both have made it clear that they favor saying more over less, except in the most extreme cases.

“The reality is that people will always say all sorts of things on the internet,” Clegg wrote in his post on Wednesday. “We believe it is necessary and possible to draw the line between content that is harmful and should be removed, with content, whether offensive or inaccurate, part of a difficult and messy life. in a free society.”

Michael C. Bender contribution report.


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