Chris Lange, FISM News
Facebook parent company Meta announced on Wednesday that it will restore former President Donald Trump’s personal Facebook and Instagram accounts, ending a two-year ban.
“Two years ago, we took action in what were extreme and highly unusual circumstances. We indefinitely suspended then-U.S. President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021,” Meta began in a blog post announcing the decision to reinstate Trump’s accounts.
The social media giant acknowledged that the decision to ban Trump was “extraordinary” and that, while its Oversight Board “upheld the decision,” its members at the time had expressed concern regarding the “open-ended nature of the suspension and the lack of clear criteria for when and whether suspended accounts will be restored.” The criticism prompted Meta to specify that the ban would remain for two years, after which the company would reassess the potential public safety risk posed by restoring Trump’s accounts.
“Our determination is that the risk has sufficiently receded, and that we should therefore adhere to the two-year timeline we set out,” Meta said. “As such, we will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks.”
Meta said that it has created “new guardrails” to ensure there are no “repeat offenders” who violate its rules, adding that it will continue to intervene if content posted presents a “clear risk” to the public. To that end, it has created “a new Crisis Policy Protocol to guide our assessment of on and off-platform risks of imminent harm so we can respond with specific policy and product actions.”
“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,” the statement read. “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,” it continued.
Trump reacted to the news in typical fashion on his Truth Social account.
“FACEBOOK, which has lost Billions of Dollars in value since ‘deplatforming’ your favorite President, me, has just announced that they are reinstating my account. Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving of retribution,” he wrote.
As of this reporting, Trump has not posted anything on his Facebook page.
The announcement from Meta comes less than two weeks after House Republicans introduced legislation to prevent the federal government from influencing Big Tech companies to censor dissenting voices. The measure was introduced following the release of the so-called “Twitter files” which, among other shocking revelations, appeared to confirm Republican accusations of a coordinated effort between the Biden administration and Big Tech to censor conservative voices. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerburg admitted in August that repeated warnings from the FBI of “Russian propaganda” were behind its decision to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop scandal ahead of the 2020 election.
Trump fired off 13 Facebook posts on January 6, 2021, the day the 2020 election results showing that President Biden would become the 46th U.S. President were to be certified. The bulk of the posts contained assertions that the election was “stolen” and accusations of “voter fraud.” At one point, Trump shared a post from Right Side Broadcasting featuring live images of Trump supporters gathered at a “Save America Rally” in D.C. The assembled crowd could be seen waving Trump signs and flags and dancing in front of cameras in what appeared to be a celebratory mood.
At some point between that post and the next, however, a crowd of Trump supporters converged on the U.S. Capitol building, breaching its doors and roaming through the building while members of Congress were inside. Media reports on the number of people involved in the breach ranged anywhere from thousands to more than 100,000. During the melee, Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter, was fatally shot by Capitol Police.
In Trump’s second-to-last Facebook post, he wrote: “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
His final post read: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
The Jan. 6 Select Committee recently concluded its two-year probe of Trump’s actions that day by sending criminal referrals against him to the Justice Department, including obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., conspiracy to make a false statement, and inciting or assisting an insurrection.