Meta is ending Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram suspension, allowing the former president to resume posting as he eyes a return to the White House via the 2024 election.
Trump was indefinitely suspended from social media sites shortly after the Capitol riots in January 2021.
Access to his accounts will be open “in the coming weeks,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Clegg wrote that Trump’s banning of Meta was “an extraordinary decision made under extraordinary circumstances” and that the decision to ban him came “following his praise for those involved in the violence on Capitol Hill on 6 January 2021”.
Meta’s executive said that at the time, the company’s action was referred to the Supervisory Board – a body set up by Meta as an independent check and balance on its decision-making.
“The board upheld the decision, but criticized the open-ended nature of the suspension and the lack of clear criteria for when and if suspended accounts will be restored, directing us to review the matter to determine a more proportionate response,” Clegg wrote.
Meta then imposed a two-year suspension on behalf of Trump, effective January 7, 2021, the date the original ban was imposed.
Clegg continued, “Now that the period of suspension has expired, the question is not whether we choose to reinstate Mr. Trump’s accounts, but whether there remain such extraordinary circumstances as the extension of the suspension to the beyond the initial two-year period is justified. ”
After reconsidering his decision, Clegg said Meta felt that the risk to public safety that existed at the time of the ban had receded sufficiently, “and therefore we should adhere to the two-year deadline that we have established”, adding that the accounts will be reinstated “with new safeguards in place to deter repeat offences”.
He said that, like other Facebook and Instagram users, Trump is subject to his Community Standards, but in light of his violations, “he now also faces stiffer penalties for repeat offenses – Sanctions that will apply to other public figures whose accounts are reinstated Civil unrest suspensions under our updated protocol.
Clegg said if Trump shares more violating content, “the content will be removed and it will be suspended between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation.”
The executive wrote that “as a general rule, we do not want to impede open, public, and democratic debate on Meta’s platforms, especially in the context of elections in democratic societies like the United States. The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying – the good, the bad and the ugly – so they can make informed choices at the ballot box.
Trump was suspended from Twitter around the same time he was kicked from Facebook and Instagram. But soon after Elon Musk acquired the company in October, Trump was allowed to return to the platform. However, he has yet to tweet.