Facebook parent Meta is restoring former President Donald Trump’s personal account after a two-year suspension following the Jan. 6 riot.
The company said in a blog post on Wednesday it was adding “new guard rails” to ensure there were no “repeat offenders” who flouted its rules.
“If Mr. Trump continues to post infringing content, the content will be removed and he will be banned for one month to two years, depending on the severity of the violation,” wrote Nick Clegg, Meta’s vice president of global affairs.
Trump blasted Facebook’s decision to suspend his account in a post on his own social media network as he praised his own website, Truth Social.
“FACEBOOK, which has lost billions of dollars in value since deplatforming your favorite president, me, just announced they are reactivating my account. Nothing like this should ever happen again to an incumbent President, or anyone else who doesn’t deserve retribution!” he wrote.
He was suspended on Jan. 7, a day after the deadly 2021 riot. Other social media companies have also ditched him from their platforms, although he was recently reinstated on Twitter after Elon Musk took over the company. He didn’t tweet.
Civil rights groups and others condemned Metas to move quickly. Allowing Trump back on Facebook sends a signal to other figures with large online audiences that they can break the rules without lasting consequences, said Heidi Beirich, founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism and a member of a group called the Real Facebook Oversight Board who has criticized the platform’s efforts.
“I’m not surprised, but it’s a disaster,” Beirich said of Meta’s decision. “Facebook created loopholes for Trump that he walked through. He started a riot on Facebook. And now he’s back.”
Clegg said Trump now faces higher penalties for repeat offenders given his past violations. Such penalties “will apply to other public figures whose accounts are restored following civil unrest-related suspensions in accordance with our updated protocol.”
When Trump — or anyone else — posts material that doesn’t violate Facebook’s rules but is otherwise harmful and could lead to events like the January 6 riot, Meta says it won’t remove it, but will limit its reach will. This includes praising the QAnon conspiracy theory or trying to delegitimize an upcoming election.
Meta said Trump’s accounts will be restored to Facebook and Instagram in the coming weeks. Banned from mainstream social media, Trump relies on Truth Social, which he launched after being blocked from Twitter.
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