Meta confirmed on Wednesday that they would be restoring former United States president Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Meta in its statement said that Trump will “in the coming weeks” get back access to his accounts. Trump, before his accounts were revoked, had millions of followers and was the most followed account on Facebook.
Meta suspended Trump’s accounts from its platforms on January 7, 2021. The accounts were deleted the day after hundreds of people stormed the Capitol, seat of the US Congress, in his name. The reason being, his posts were dangerous as they could incite more violence if the then president remains on the sites. His accounts were not only deleted from Meta Platforms but also from other media sites like YouTube and Twitter, in the same week.
At the time, Trump had applauded rioters who were the perpetrators of violence at the US Capitol on January 6, in his posts on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Trump had shared a video clip on January 6 in which he said, “We love you, you’re very special. I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us.”
Meta said on Wednesday, that its decision to reestablish Trump’s social media accounts came because it noted that public safety was no more at risk and that it had “sufficiently receded” since January 2021. Meta also said that it would provide guardrails to “deter repeat offenses” in the future.
In June 2021, Meta, who was then called Facebook, in its statement made it clear that its decision to suspend Trump would remain until at least January 2023 and would restore his account only “if conditions permit.” The statement was in response to a recommendation from the company’s externally staffed Oversight Board.
Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, on Wednesday, said, “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. But that does not mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform.”
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
Clegg, on Tuesday, in a blogpost wrote, “Like 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. 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.”
Meta has been blamed of censoring conservative voices, including Donald Trump, by critics.
Trump has made false claims in the past two years that he had won the 2020 election. Trump had last year in November announced his campaign for the 2024 presidential election.
Donald Trump said a “deplatforming” should “never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving retribution!”. He posted his comments on the right-wing social network Truth Social after Meta’s decision.
A discussion about online free speech and who should have the authority to determine what can be posted and what has to be removed has revolved around Meta. The removal of Mr. Trump’s accounts served as a potent illustration of the power of social media sites and the question of whether they have too much control and influence over online public conversation.