Get ready to see Trump posts shared on your Facebook feed again.
Meta announced on Wednesday that it would be reinstating Donald Trump’s accounts on both Facebook and Instagram. The move ends the company’s over two-year long suspension of Trump.
“Two years ago, we took action in what were extreme and highly unusual circumstances,” Meta’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said in a statement posted to the company’s website, referring to Jan. 6, 2021. According to Clegg, the company’s decision comes after assessing whether there was still “serious risk to public safety.”
“We have evaluated the current environment according to our Crisis Policy Protocol, which included looking at the conduct of the US 2022 midterm elections, and expert assessments on the current security environment,” the statement reads. “Our determination is that the risk has sufficiently receded, and that we should therefore adhere to the two-year timeline we set out.”
“As such, we will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks,” it continued.
The former president had been suspended from Meta’s platform in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 events, which saw a pro-Trump mob violently storm the Capitol building in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election and overturn the results in favor of Trump. In the lead up to, and during, the riots Trump had been posting incendiary messages to his followers, which resulted in his suspension from numerous social media platforms.
“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period 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 Oversight Board, which upheld the suspension but criticized the company for not making it clear if it was a permanent suspension or a temporary one. If the latter, the Oversight Board said Meta should make it clear what the timeframe was for the suspension to be lifted. Meta responded to the Oversight Board’s decision by saying it would last for two years. After that, the company said it would review if the account was still a risk to public safety.
With Meta’s announcement reinstating Trump, the company shared that it was adding “new guardrails” in order to “deter repeat offenses” in the future. According to Clegg, if Trump or any other reinstated account violates Meta’s policies on Facebook or Instagram, there will be harsher penalties for these repeat offenses. Breaking these rules could result in the removal of content and a new suspension lasting anywhere from one month to two years, depending on the severity of the violation.
Meta says it will also limit the visibility or reach of content or even remove the ability to share posts outright that contributes to public risk, even if it doesn’t break its policies outright. The company shared examples such as content that “delegitimizes an upcoming election or is related to QAnon.”
The decision from Meta to restore Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts is not a surprise. Clegg had hinted at the possibility at an event in September of last year. A few months later, Elon Musk announced that Twitter would reinstate Trump’s account, further giving a preview as to what Meta’s future decision on Trump would likely be.
Trump has been locked into an exclusivity agreement with his own social media platform, Truth Social, so he has yet to tweet since being reinstated on Twitter last year. However, recent reports have stated that Trump was looking to end that agreement, so he could post on other social media platforms as he ramps up his 2024 presidential campaign.
Critics of Meta’s decision were quick to point out how Trump has increasingly promoted far-right content on Truth Social since being suspended from Facebook.
“Today, Meta chose to put its own profits above American democracy and the real-world safety of its users,” said Nicole Gill, co-founder and executive director of the advocacy nonprofit Accountable Tech in a statement provided to Mashable. “I want to be very 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 insurrection against the United States – and whose behavior has only gotten more dangerous in the years since. Trump has repeatedly used Truth Social to fuel violence, spread election lies, and promote domestic terrorist organizations like QAnon.”
Trump currently has 34 million followers on Facebook. Furthermore, the former president’s Facebook page may now also utilize Facebook ad campaigns, which were an integral part of his previous presidential campaigns.
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