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Facebook to allow Trump back on platform as he gears up for 2024

By Sarah May
|
January 29, 2023

As former President Donald Trump begins ramping up his 2024 White House bid in a big way, he just received news of a major win, namely, that his accounts on social media platforms Facebook and Instagram will be reinstated by parent company Meta, as NBC News reports.

Both sites suspended Trump's accounts just over two years ago in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol unrest, but following Meta's adherence to a self-proclaimed review protocol, word came this week that the former commander in chief would be permitted to return to the platforms if he so desires.

Trump reinstatement announced

The news about Trump's account status came Wednesday in a statement issued by Meta's president of global affairs, Nick Clegg.

“We will be ending the suspension of Mr. Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks,” said Clegg, adding, “[w]e've put new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”

Declaring the enhanced scrutiny the former president will face on the platforms should he decide to return, Clegg noted, “[L]ike any other Facebook or Instagram user, Mr. Trump is subject to our Community Standards. In light of his violations, he now also faces heightened penalties for repeat offenses – penalties which will apply to other public figures whose accounts are reinstated from suspensions related to civil unrest under our updated protocol.”

Clegg further warned, “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.”

Rationale explained

Speaking to Hallie Jackson of NBC News, Clegg explained that lifting Trump's suspension was indicative of the company's careful balance when it comes to restricting speech.

“We're not trying to kind of, you know, censor everything that everyone says in an open and free democracy,” Clegg claimed. “We think that open and free debate on the rough and tumble of democratic debate should play out on Facebook and Instagram as much as anywhere else.”

In the statement Clegg issued on behalf of Meta, Clegg also opined, “Social media is rooted in the belief that open debate and the free flow of ideas are important values, especially at a time when they are under threat in many places around the world.”

“The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying – the good, the bad and the ugly – so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box,” the statement continued.

Reversal request

Meta's decision came soon after the Trump 2024 campaign formally requested that the company reinstate his accounts, a move seen as an effort possibly geared at reclaiming the former president's once-dominant social media presence as his latest election push begins to heat up.

Almost immediately after Meta's two-year suspension period expired, the Trump campaign requested “prompt reinstatement.”

“We believe that the ban on President Trump's account on Facebook has dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse,” the campaign's official letter to Meta explained, further contending that a continued ban amounted to interference with a fair election process, as NBC News reported separately.

Before Meta's decision was announced, an unnamed Trump adviser reportedly suggested that members of the new Republican House majority could be enlisted to lobby on behalf of the former president's reinstatement, saying, “If Facebook wants to have this fight, fine, but the House is leverage, and keeping Trump off Facebook just looks political.”

Trump reacts

In characteristically outspoken fashion, Trump responded to Meta's reinstatement decision by posting a strongly worded take on his Truth Social platform.

“FACEBOOK, which has lost Billions of Dollars in value since 'deplatforming' your favorite President, me, has just announced that they are reinstating my account," Trump began.

"Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving of retribution!” he added.

Though it remains to be seen whether Trump will return to Facebook or Instagram anytime soon, considering that his campaign is poised to start hitting the road with great gusto this weekend in the key primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, it may be hard for the former president to resist taking full advantage of the massive reach those platforms have historically afforded him.