Facebook to allow Trump back on platform after 2-year ban

Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc.
META,
-1.15%
will restore former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts after the social-media platform banned him in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in 2021.

The reinstatement of those accounts is set to happen “in the coming weeks,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said in a statement late Wednesday.

“As a general rule, we don’t want to get in the way of open, public and democratic debate on Meta’s platforms — especially in the context of elections in democratic societies like the United States,” he 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.” 

A representative for the former president did not immediately return a request for comment.

The decision by Meta comes after Elon Musk, who owns Twitter, restored Trump’s account on that platform last year. Trump’s own social-media foray — Truth Social — has suffered from an array of technical, legal and financial issues since its launch last year.

Clegg, in the statement on Wednesday, said Trump’s suspension was “an extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances,” after the former president framed the storming of the Capitol as a response to the baseless notion that the 2020 election was rigged, and appeared reluctant to condemn the riots.

Clegg said that an oversight board criticized the ban on Trump’s accounts as being too open-ended and vague, and said it lacked specific guidelines on how to handle the suspension, and eventual restoration of accounts on the platform. In response, he said, the company set a suspension time frame of two years, and added more guidelines surrounding curbs on activity from public figures during civil unrest.

Company management also told the oversight board that it would “assess whether the risk to public safety has receded” before making any decision on Trump’s accounts.

“To assess whether the serious risk to public safety that existed in January 2021 has sufficiently receded, we have evaluated the current environment according to our Crisis Policy Protocol, which included looking at the conduct of the U.S. 2022 midterm elections, and expert assessments on the current security environment,” Clegg said. “Our determination is that the risk has sufficiently receded, and that we should therefore adhere to the two-year timeline we set out.”

He said Trump could face suspensions ranging from one month to two years for any future violations of any posting guidelines, depending on how far he runs afoul of those rules. Meta may also “limit the distribution” of posts that circulate conspiracy theories, and take steps to limit access to advertising. Those steps could leave material visible on Trump’s accounts, but off of other users’ feeds.

Shares of Meta slipped 0.2% after hours on Wednesday.

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