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Trump formally asks Facebook to allow him to return to their platform

By Sarah May
|
January 19, 2023

As he continues to build his 2024 campaign for the White House, former President Donald Trump has made a move toward reclaiming the dominant social media presence he enjoyed prior to the Jan. 6, 2021 unrest at the U.S. Capitol, formally asking parent company Meta to reinstate his Facebook account, as NBC News reports.

The request came in a letter from Trump's campaign to officials at Meta in which the former president also requested a meeting with the company to discuss “prompt reinstatement to the platform.”

Trump eyes Facebook return

Facebook's ban on Trump dates back to the day after the Capitol unrest, and after additional review of the situation, the company settled on what was described as a limited ban on the former president that would be revisited after two years had passed.

Now that the review period has arrived, the former commander in chief's campaign put a request to Meta in writing which said, “We believe that the ban on President Trump's account on Facebook has dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse” and also contended that a continued ban represented interference with a fair election process.

The letter did not contain any threat of a lawsuit against Meta, and though the company has declined thus far to comment on the campaign's request, officials did say that a decision on the status of the account will be announced “in the coming weeks in line with the process we laid out.”

NBC News noted that an unnamed Trump adviser indicated that the campaign is of the belief that Facebook will lift the ban and offer reinstatement, but if such an outcome proves elusive, it will enlist the help of House Republicans who might be able to persuade Meta officials on the former president's behalf.

The campaign adviser continued, “If Facebook wants to have this fight, fine, but the House is leverage, and keeping Trump off Facebook just looks political.”

Twitter account restored

Though Trump was also booted from Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol unrest, and that ban was supposed to have been permanent, the former president received a reprieve back in November when he was permitted to rejoin the platform, as CBS News noted at the time.

That decision was made by new Twitter CEO Elon Musk, who announced the move following an online poll he conducted on the matter.

Musk famously asked the Twitterverse to weigh in on Trump's fate on the platform, with 51% of respondents urging the restoration of his account.

“The people have spoken, Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk declared.

Once an extremely prolific user of Twitter, the former president has yet to post since his account was restored, but an unnamed Republican insider told NBC News, “Trump is probably coming back to Twitter. It's just a question of how and when. He's been talking about it for weeks, but Trump speaks for Trump, so it's anyone's guess what he'll do or say or when.”

NBC News also quoted another Trump insider who said that the former president has been soliciting advice for some time about whether to return to Twitter and indicated that campaign staff have even gone so far as to have “workshopped ideas” for what could be his initial post.

Awaiting word

It remains to be seen whether the current climate at Meta is one likely to be amenable to Trump's return to Facebook, particularly given the severe tone taken by the company when the ban was first implemented.

At the time Trump was kicked off the platform, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, as NBC News noted, “The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden.”

Zuckerberg also claimed that Trump had repeatedly broken platform rules for many years, but that Meta had simply attached labels on offending posts instead of initiating a ban, saying, “the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech.”

The matter was subsequently referred to Facebook's independent oversight board led by company president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, who, despite upholding the ban, also said, “any private company should tread with great thoughtfulness when seeking to, basically, silence political voices.”

In its letter seeking reinstatement, Trump's campaign reportedly quoted Clegg's words back to the company and said, “We agree.” Whether the current company leadership does as well and will grant the former president's request, only time will tell.