OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Former President Donald Trump just got fantastic news as Meta has announced he can come back to Facebook and Instagram.
“Two years ago, Meta took action in what were extreme and highly unusual circumstances. We indefinitely suspended then-US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6th 2021. We then referred that decision to the Oversight Board – an expert body established to be an independent check and balance on our decision-making. The Board upheld the decision but criticised the open-ended nature of the suspension and the lack of clear criteria for when and whether suspended accounts will be restored, directing us to review the matter to determine a more proportionate response,” Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said of the reinstatement on Facebook.
“In response we imposed a time-bound suspension of two years – an unprecedented length of time for such a suspension. We also clarified the circumstances in which accounts of public figures could be restricted during times of civil unrest and ongoing violence, and introduced a new Crisis Policy Protocol to guide our assessment of on and off-platform risks of imminent harm so we can respond with specific policy and product actions. In our response to the Oversight Board, we also said that before making any decision on whether or not to lift Mr Trump’s suspension, we would assess whether the risk to public safety has receded,” he said.
“The suspension was an extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances. The normal state of affairs is that the public should be able to hear from a former President of the United States, and a declared candidate for that office again, on our platforms. Now that the time period of the suspension has elapsed, the question is not whether we choose to reinstate Mr Trump’s accounts, but whether there remain such extraordinary circumstances that extending the suspension beyond the original two-year period is justified,:” he said.
“To assess whether the serious risk to public safety that existed in January 2021 has sufficiently receded, we have evaluated the current environment according to our Crisis Policy Protocol, which included looking at the conduct of the US midterm elections, and expert assessments on the current security environment. 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. However, we are doing so with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offences, including heightened penalties for content that violates our Community Standards and potential restrictions on content that does not violate the rules but that contributes to the sort of risk that materialised on January 6th,” he said.
With his Facebook and Instagram accounts reactivated, Trump will once again gain access to huge and powerful communications and fundraising platforms just as he ramps up his third bid for the White House.
The decision, which comes on the heels of a similar move by Twitter, could also further shift the landscape for how a long list of smaller online platforms handle Trump’s accounts.
It was not immediately clear whether Trump will seize the opportunity to return to the Meta platforms. Trump’s reps did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a post on his own platform, Truth Social, Trump acknowledged Meta’s decision to reverse its suspension of his account and said “such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving of retribution.”
Twitter restored Trump’s account in November following its takeover by billionaire Elon Musk, but the former president has not yet resumed tweeting, opting instead to remain on Truth Social.