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SAN FRANCISCO: Social media giant Meta said on Wednesday it would end its “suspension” of Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks, two years after the former president banned Americans after the Capitol attack.
“The public needs to hear what politicians have to say so they can make an informed choice,” said Nick Clegg, Meta’s head of international affairs.
“But that doesn’t mean there’s no limit to what people can say on our platform. Public discussion – we’re taking action,” he said.
The Republican 2024 presidential candidate was banned from the social network on January 7, 2021, while still in office, for encouraging supporters to attack Congress in Washington the day before.
This unprecedented decision was imitated by most social networks at the time, including Twitter.
In June 2021, Facebook decided that the exemption would last for two years and that the Republican billionaire could return only when the “risks to public safety” had “disappeared”.
From his account on Truth Social, the social network he opened last year, Donald Trump responded: “It should never happen again to a sitting president or anyone who doesn’t deserve punishment!”
Last week, the former president officially asked to be able to return to Facebook.
His lawyer sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, founder and president of Meta, urging him not to “silence the presidential candidate.”
The politician was readmitted to Twitter on November 19, 2022, shortly after announcing his candidacy for 2024. However, he has yet to post on this account, mostly communicating through his platform, Truth Social.
But Truth Social’s reach is very small compared to Donald Trump’s predecessors.
“Trump needs (Facebook) to fundraise,” University of Florida media and technology professor Andrew Selepak recently tweeted.
Meta “made the right decision. Whether you like it or not, Mr. Trump is one of the country’s leading political figures and it is in the public interest to hear what he has to say,” the powerful organization’s director, Anthony Romero, responded. Civil Rights Association ACLU.
He further notes that “some of the most shocking messages posted by Trump on social media have been used as evidence against him and his administration in court proceedings.”
“This is a disastrous and irresponsible decision by Meta, which will encourage the spread of hatred and misinformation,” commented the “Real Supervisory Board of Facebook”, a very critical association of the social network.
“We know that any decision on this matter will be fiercely criticized,” said Nick Clegg.
World No. 2 in online advertising, advocates of stricter content moderation are at the center of the debate to clean up platforms on the left of the American political spectrum in general, and accuse the big platforms of “censorship” in particular. Against Republicans, without evidence.
Nick Clegg recalled that removing the president from power was “an extraordinary decision taken under extraordinary circumstances.”
Meta found that “the risk to public safety has been sufficiently reduced” to allow Donald Trump to return, but with new safeguards, including against repeat offenders, to prevent further violations of the two social networks’ rules.
The company had indeed received a new round of sanctions following a particularly tense 2021 US presidential campaign and an attack on the Capitol on the day Joe Biden’s victory was announced.
In addition to his support for his supporters that day, Donald Trump has been promoting his “Big Lie” theory for months – baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him.
“If Mr. Trump posts any infringing content again, he will be removed and suspended for a period of one month to two years, depending on the severity of the offense,” Clegg said.
Thus, Meta will be able to prevent the spread of messages that do not pose specific risks, but “undermine the legitimacy of elections.”