Techspace - After a two-year ban for his online behavior during the January 6 insurrection, Meta has said that it will allow Donald Trump to return to Facebook and Instagram in a highly anticipated decision.
Meta's president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, reported in a blog post that the company will allow Trump to come back "in coming weeks" but "with renewed guardrails in place to prevent repetition offenses." Clegg was attempting to explain the decision.
Clegg wrote, "Mr. Trump is subject to our community standards, just like any other Facebook or Instagram user." Mr. Trump will be suspended for anywhere from one month to two years, leaning on the severity of the offense, if he posts any more content that violates the rules.
After the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021, Trump was removed from Meta platforms. During those riots, he posted unsubstantiated claims that the election had been stolen, praised protesters becoming increasingly violent, and condemned former vice president Mike Pence even though the mob threatened to kill him.
Clegg stated that Meta has considered "whether there remain such great possibilities that extending the suspension beyond the original two-year period is justified" and that the suspension was "an outstanding decision taken in extraordinary possibilities."
He wrote that the company has concluded that its platforms should be open to "open, public, and democratic discussion" and that users "should be able to hear from a former President of the United States, and an announced candidate for that office again."
He stated, "The public should be able to hear what their politicians are speaking – the good, the bad, and the ugly – so that they can make informed options at the ballot box." This would allow the public to make informed choices.
As a general rule, we don’t want to get in the way of open debate on our platforms, esp in context of democratic elections. People should be able to hear what politicians are saying - good, bad & ugly - to make informed choices at the ballot box. 1/4
As a general rule, we don’t want to get in the way of open debate on our platforms, esp in context of democratic elections. People should be able to hear what politicians are saying - good, bad & ugly - to make informed choices at the ballot box. 1/4— Nick Clegg (@nickclegg) January 25, 2023
In a January letter to Meta, his campaign said that the former president wanted to start posting again on the platform. However, it is not clear if he will.
The letter stated, "We believe that the ban on President Trump's account on Facebook has distorted and inhibited the public discourse."
New Guardrails by Meta
Clegg stated that Meta's "guardrails" would include taking action against content that "contributes to the sort of risk that materialized on January 6, such as content that delegitimizes an upcoming election or is related to QAnon," when he announced the decision on Wednesday.
Clegg stated that Meta could "remove the re-share button" from posts or "may limit the allocation of such posts, and for reprised instances, may temporarily limit access to our advertising tools."
In a brief statement reposted by others on Twitter in response to the news, Trump stated that "such a thing should never happen again to a sitting president," but he did not specify whether or when he would return to the platform.
On the platforms where his accounts have been reinstated, it is still being determined whether he will resume posting. According to NBC News, he was eager to return to Facebook. He formally appealed to Meta to reinstate his accounts, despite initially stating that he would be "staying on Truth [Social]," his own social media platform.
However, Trump had not tweeted again for weeks after returning to Twitter. Some people have suggested that his exclusivity agreement with Truth Social is the reason for his silence.
Rolling Stone reported that Trump planned to resume tweeting in June when the agreement that requires him to post all news to the app six hours ahead of any other platform expires. Unlike Truth Social, where he only has 5 million followers, Trump has a much larger following on mainstream social media platforms.
In a December letter, Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill urged Meta to uphold the ban after numerous advocates for online safety warned that Trump's return would be harmful.
Delegate Adam Schiff, a liberal who recently led the House knowledge board of trustees, criticized the choice to restore him. Schiff wrote on Twitter, "Trump stoked an uprising." According to him, giving Trump back access to a social media platform where he can spread his lies and demagoguery is risky.
A group of academics, advocates, and activists calling themselves the Real Facebook Oversight Board said in a statement, "Whether he uses the platforms or not, a reinstatement by Meta sends a message that there are no real consequences even for inciting insurrection and a coup on their channels."
Following their statement, a person who has repeatedly broken their terms of service, disseminated false information on their platforms and stoked violence would be welcomed back.
Even though his ban was lifted, Trump's account has not been able to post any new content. Civil rights groups claim that the Meta decision sets a risky precedent, regardless of what the former president does in the future.
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