According to Meta’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, he said “Two years ago, we took action in what was extreme and highly unusual circumstances,” which was disclosed in a statement posted on the company’s website dating January 6, 2021. According to Clegg, the company’s decision came after evaluating whether there was still a “serious risk to public safety”.
The statement read “We have evaluated the current environment according to our Crisis Policy Protocol, which included looking at the conduct of the US 2022 midterm elections, and expert assessments on the current security environment,”.
“Our determination is that the risk has sufficiently receded and that we should therefore adhere to the two-year timeline we set out.”. It also added that
“As such, we will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks,”.
Former President Donald Trump was suspended from Meta’s platform after the issue which happened in January. 6, this event which led to a pro-Trump mob violently storming the state’s Capitol building so they can stop the certification of current U.S. president Joe Biden, the winner of the 2020 presidential election, and overturn the results in favor of Trump. In the build-up to and also during the riots, Trump had been posting provocative messages to his followers, which led to him being suspended from various social media platforms.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated in a statement on his Facebook page, during that period “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,”.
Immediately after the suspension, Meta moved the Trump case to its Oversight Board, which voted in favor of the suspension but censured the company for not stating clearly whether it was a permanent or temporary suspension and the company for not stating clearly whether it was a permanent suspension or a temporary one. However, if the Oversight Board mandated Meta to declare the timeframe for the suspension. Meta pointed out to the Oversight Board’s decision by adding that it would last for two years and after then, the company would evaluate if the account was still a risk to public safety.
With Meta’s recent announcement reinstating Donald Trump, the company also mentioned that it was adding “new guardrails” to prevent “deter repeat offenses” in the future. Clegg also added that, if Trump or any other reinstated account infringes Meta’s policies on Facebook or Instagram, there will be harsher penalties for a repeat of such offenses. Breaking such rules could result in content removal and a new suspension lasting for as long as a month to two years depending on the degree of the violation.
Meta also added that it will limit the visibility, and reach of certain content and remove the ability to share content that could add to the public risk, even if it doesn’t violate its policies outrightly. The company gave examples of content that “delegitimizes an upcoming election or is related to QAnon”.
This decision by Meta to restore Trump’s Facebook and Instagram account is however not a surprise as President of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, hinted about the possibility of such an occurrence in September 2022, and a month later, Twitter CEO, Elon Musk announced in a tweet that Twitter would reinstate Trump’s account, which gave a hint to what Meta’s decision on the former President’s case would be.
Trump who has been busy with an exclusivity agreement with his own social platform, Truth Social, has not made a single tweet since his account was reinstated on Twitter last year, although, recent reports have disclosed that he might end that agreement, so he could continue to post on other social media platform as he makes preparation for his 2024 presidential campaign.
Criticism has however risen to condemn Meta’s decision on Trump’s reinstatement while citing Trump’s promoting far-right content on Truth Social since he was suspended on Facebook.
Nicole Gill, co-founder and executive director of the advocacy nonprofit Accountable Tech said in a statement “Today, Meta chose to put its own profits above American democracy and the real-world safety of its users,”. He added, “I want to be very clear: there is absolutely no justification for allowing Donald Trump back on Facebook…This is a man who used the platform to incite a deadly insurrection against the United States – and whose behavior has only gotten more dangerous in the years since. Trump has repeatedly used Truth Social to fuel violence, spread election lies, and promote domestic terrorist organizations like QAnon.”.
Trump, who currently has 34 million followers on Facebook, might make use of the Facebook ad campaign which was one of his major forces in his previous campaign.