Why Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will be reinstated

Donald Trump will soon be allowed back on Facebook and Instagram.

Donald Trump will soon be allowed back on Facebook and Instagram. Photo: Getty/TND

Former US president Donald Trump will have his Facebook and Instagram accounts reinstated in coming weeks.

On Thursday (local time) Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced Mr Trump’s suspension would be coming to an end, but did not provide a specific date.

Following the January 6, 2021 insurrection, when Mr Trump’s supporters descended on the US Capitol in Washington DC in a deadly attack, the former president was banned not only from Meta’s platforms, but also Twitter.

Mr Trump has already had his Twitter account reinstated, after Elon Musk took over the platform – however, he is yet to tweet anything new.

Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, said as a “general rule” the company did not want to “get in the way of open, public and democratic debate” on its platforms, especially regarding elections in democratic societies.

“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,” he said.

donald trump

Donald Trump was banned from Facebook and Instagram following the January 6 insurrection. Photo: Getty

The announcement comes just days after the Trump campaign petitioned Meta to reinstall his accounts. Mr Trump is planning on running for president in 2024.

“We believe that the ban on president Trump’s account on Facebook has dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse,” the Trump campaign letter said, according to NBC News.

In his blog post, Mr Clegg touched on the debate surrounding how social media companies approach content being shared on their platforms and how some believe content should be removed, while others think doing so is censorship.

He said Meta’s default position is letting people speak even when what they are saying is “distasteful or factually wrong”.

“Democracy is messy and people should be able to make their voices heard,” he said.

“We believe it is both necessary and possible to draw a line between content that is harmful and should be removed, and content that, however distasteful or inaccurate, is part of the rough and tumble of life in a free society.”

Why was Trump banned?

“We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Mr Trump said at a rally in Washington DC before the insurrection.

At the time of his speech, lawmakers were at the Capitol, certifying the election results. A mob, trying to “stop the steal”, as they chanted, were already outside.

His supporters would then go on to smash through the windows of the Capitol and breach the building. After the riot, lawmakers were forced to evacuate and hide.

As his supporters infiltrated the building, he encouraged the mob to “remain peaceful” on social media. About an hour later, he released a video encouraging his supporters to go home.

Meta indefinitely revoked Mr Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts after removing two of his posts during the Capitol Hill violence, including a video in which he reiterated his false claim of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election.

Pictured are Donald Trump supporters at the Capitol on January 6

Supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Photo: Getty

Why is Meta allowing Trump back online?

Meta’s independent oversight board ruled Mr Trump’s suspension was justified, but said its indeterminate nature was not.

The company said the suspension would be revisited two years after it was enforced.

Mr Clegg said in response to the oversight board, the company would assess the risk of public safety before deciding whether or not Mr Trump’s account should be reinstated.

Meta evaluated the current environment, according to its crisis policy protocol, to determine whether the “serious risk to public safety that existed in January 2021 has sufficiently receded”.

That included looking at the 2022 US midterm elections and expert assessments on the current security environment, Mr 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.

“As such, we will be reinstating Mr Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks. However, we are doing so with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offences.”

Trump facing ‘heightened penalties’

The former president is subject to Meta’s community standards, just like every other Facebook and Instagram user. However, Mr Clegg said that given his past offences, he will face “heightened penalties for repeat offences”.

Such penalties will also apply to other public figures who have suspensions related to civil unrest overturned under Meta’s updated protocol.

“In the event that Mr Trump posts further violating content, the content will be removed and he will be suspended for between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation,” Mr Clegg said.

pictured is donald trump

Donald Trump will face “heightened penalties” for repeat offences. Photo: Getty

Content on Meta that delegitimises an upcoming election or is related to QAnon may result in the company limiting the distribution. The advertising tools may be temporarily restricted for repeat offences.

Mr Clegg said this means such content would remain visible on Mr Trump’s account, but won’t be distributed on his follower’s feeds and Meta may remove the reshare button on posts and prevent them being run as ads.

If Mr Trump violates the community standards but falls under Meta’s newsworthy content policy, the company will assess if there is a public interest in knowing his statements that outweigh any potential harm.

Will Trump return to Meta platforms?

Since all the bans, Mr Trump has favoured his own social media platform, Truth Social.

Last year, Pew Research conducted a survey that found only 27 per cent of adults had heard of the platform and there have been reports there are only a few million users on it.

Mr Trump has acknowledged Meta’s decision on Truth Social, saying Meta had lost “billions” since banning him.

Pictured is Donald Trump's post about the Meta decision on Truth Social

Donald Trump responded to Meta’s decision on Truth Social.

On Twitter, Mr Trump has more than 87 million followers, 34 million followers on Facebook and 23 million on Instagram – all platforms that are key vehicles for political outreach and fundraising.

-with AAP

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