Meta is set to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks. This comes after Trump was banned on the platforms more than two years ago after he praised the people who attacked the United States Capitol building back on January 6, 2021.
Before Meta decided to unban Trump from its social media platforms, they assessed whether the serious risk to public safety that existed during the January 2021 events has sufficiently receded. They ultimately determined that “the risk has sufficiently receded,” and they should adhere to the two-year timeline they implemented.
Meta’s president of global affairs Nick Clegg expounded further:
The suspension was an extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances. The normal state of affairs is that the public should be able to hear from a former President of the United States, and a declared candidate for that office again, on our platforms. Now that the time period of the suspension has elapsed, the question is not whether we choose to reinstate Mr. Trump’s accounts, but whether there remain such extraordinary circumstances that extending the suspension beyond the original two-year period is justified.
Despite the reinstatement, Meta will have “new guardrails” in place. Aside from being subject to Facebook and Instagram’s Community Standards, he now also faces heightened penalties for repeat offenses (which will also apply to other public figures whose accounts are reinstated from suspensions due to civil unrest). If Trump posts content that violates Meta’s standards, the posts will be removed and the former President will be suspended again for between one month and two years, depending on the violation’s severity.
What’s more, the company said that it may limit the distribution of Trump’s posts that may contain content that does not violate its Community Standards but contributes to risks that materialized on January 6. It may even restrict his advertising capabilities for repeated instances. This means that these posts would remain visible on Trump’s account but not appear in people’s news feeds, even if they follow the former President.
When Meta banned Trump from its platforms, many found that the company overstepped its boundaries and accused it of censorship. As such, the social network referred the case to the Oversight Board, an entity created to challenge or validate Facebook’s decisions. While the board upheld the decision, it criticized Meta’s open-ended nature of the suspension and the lack of clear criteria for the restoration of suspended accounts.
Meta is not the first social media company to reinstate Trump. Back in November of last year, Twitter restored the former President’s account after its new owner business mogul Elon Musk followed the result of a public Twitter poll.