Following a two-year suspension after the Capitol Hill riot on January 6, 2021, Meta said on Wednesday that it will restore former US President Donald Trump ‘s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks.
Trump announced in November that he will run for President again in 2024. He has 34 million Facebook followers and 23 million Instagram followers, both of which are important platforms for political outreach and fundraising.
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The social media company said in a blog post it has “put new guardrails in place to deter repeat offences.”
“In the event that Mr Trump posts further violating content, the content will be removed and he will be suspended for between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation,” wrote Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs.
The decision to ban Trump polarized Meta, the world’s largest social media company, which had never previously blocked the account of a sitting head of state for violating its content rules.
After removing two of Trump’s posts during the Capitol Hill violence, including a video in which he reiterated his claim of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election, Meta suspended Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely.
It then referred the case to its independent oversight board, which ruled that the suspension was justified but not the indefinite nature of the suspension. In response, Meta stated that the suspension would be reviewed two years later.
Meta may reactivate other suspended accounts, including those sanctioned for their involvement in civil unrest. The company stated that those accounts that were reinstated would be subject to a more stringent review and penalties for violations.
It is not immediately clear whether or not Donald Trump will take advantage of the opportunity to return to Facebook and Instagram. He regained access to Twitter, his former favourite online platform, in November.
Trump has not sent any new tweets since regaining access to the platform, stating that he prefers to use his own app Truth Social. But, according to his campaign spokesman, being back on Facebook “will be an important tool for the 2024 campaign to reach voters.”
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Trump responded to his reinstatement on Meta apps in a post on Truth Social, saying, “Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anyone else who is not deserving of retribution!” He did not say whether or when he would resume posting on Meta platforms.
The decision to reinstate him was criticized by Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat who previously chaired the House Intelligence Committee, he wrote on Twitter, “Trump incited an insurrection. Giving him back access to a social media platform to spread his lies and demagoguery is dangerous.”