More than two years after Meta extended its “indefinite” suspension of former US President Donald Trump from Facebook, the company has decided to reinstate his account. In a statement, Meta said Trump would be able to access his Facebook and Instagram accounts in the “coming weeks” but that “new guardials” would be put in place to prevent reoffending.
The decision came after Trump’s company insisted that the former president be allowed to return to Facebook ahead of the upcoming presidential primaries.
Trump was removed from Facebook after the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, publicly praising those involved in the riots. Meta’s actions have come under sharp criticism, including from its own Supervisory Board. In its ruling on Trump’s ban, the board criticized Meta for not following its own rules and trying to “evade responsibility.”
Meta later revised the suspension and said it would last at least two years. However, the company confirmed that Trump would eventually be allowed to return to Facebook. Nick Clegg, Meta’s head of policy, said at the time that the former president would be “subject to new and enhanced sanctions” for future policy violations.
Clegg now says that Trump and other public figures reinstated after the ban “due to civil unrest” will face new suspensions of at least one month for future offenses.
He added that Meta will also take steps to restrict access to Trump’s posts if they contribute to “the sort of risk that materialized on January 6, such as content that delegitimizes an upcoming election or is related to QAnon.” While Meta can’t remove these posts entirely, he said the company will consider removing the Share button and blocking them from the company’s advertising and recommendation systems.
Clegg also confirmed that the company’s controversial news content policy may continue to apply to Donald Trump.
Meta’s decision came a few months after Elon Musk reinstated the ex-president’s Twitter account. So far, Trump has refused to resume his Twitter habit — he switched to Truth Social last year — but as reported by Rolling Stone, he is still considering a return. While Trump is known to favor Twitter, his Facebook following has also been a major asset for both of his previous campaigns.
Trump’s ban also marks the first major test for Meta’s Oversight Board, which the company created to help itself weigh the complexities of content moderation and policy decision-making. In their recent statement, the oversight board said they had no involvement in the company’s decision to reinstate Trump and that they plan to “publish a fuller analysis of this case in a future quarterly transparency report.”