Facebook parent Meta said on Wednesday it would restore former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks, just over two years after suspending him following the attack. of January 6 at the Capitol.
“Our determination is that the risk [to public safety] has backed off enough,” Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said in a blog post. “As such, we will be restoring Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks. However, we do so with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offences.
Trump could be suspended for up to two years at a time for violating the platform’s policies in the future, Clegg said.
With his Facebook and Instagram accounts reactivated, Trump will once again have access to huge and powerful communications and fundraising platforms as he fast-tracks his third bid for the White House.
The decision, which follows a similar move by Twitter, could also further alter the landscape of how a long list of small online platforms handle Trump’s accounts.
It was not immediately clear whether Trump would take the opportunity to return to Meta platforms. Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a post on his own Truth Social platform, Trump acknowledged Meta’s decision to unsuspend his account and said, “Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting president, or any other person who does not deserve retaliation”.
Twitter restored Trump’s account in November after it was taken over by billionaire Elon Musk, but the former president has yet to resume tweeting, choosing instead to stay on Truth Social.
But Trump’s campaign earlier this month sent a letter to Meta asking the company to unblock his Facebook account, a source familiar with the letter told CNN, making his return more likely. Although Twitter has always been Trump’s favorite platform, he has a massive reach on Facebook and Instagram – 34 million followers and 23 million followers, respectively, before his reinstatement. Previous Trump campaigns have praised the effectiveness of Facebook’s targeted advertising tools and spent millions running ads on Facebook.
The company made the historic decision to ban Trump from posting on Facebook and Instagram the day after the Jan. 6 attack, in which his supporters stormed the US Capitol in a bid to overturn the results. 2020 elections.
Numerous other platforms followed suit in quick succession, but Facebook was clear it planned to reverse the decision at a later date. After Facebook’s independent oversight board recommended the company clarify what was initially an indefinite suspension, Facebook said the former chairman would remain banned from the platform until at least January 7, 2023.
Meta earlier this month was considering restoring Trump’s accounts with the help of an internal task force specially formed by the company and made up of leaders from different parts of the organization, a person familiar with it told CNN. with the deliberations. The group included representatives from the public policy, communications, content policy and security and corporate integrity teams, and was led by Clegg, who was previously Britain’s deputy prime minister.
The company said in June 2021 that it would “turn to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has diminished” in January 2023 to make a decision on the former president’s behalf. “If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a specified period and continue to reassess until this risk has subsided,” said Clegg, then vice president of business. worldwide at Meta. , said in a statement at the time.
Clegg said in his Wednesday post that the society believes “the public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying – the good, the bad and the ugly – so they can make informed choices at the ballot box.” But, he said, “that doesn’t mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform.”
In light of his previous violations, Trump will now face “heavier penalties for repeat offenses,” Clegg said, adding that the policy will also apply to other public figures whose accounts are reinstated as a result of suspensions related to civil unrest.
“In the event that Mr. Trump posts further infringing content, the content will be removed and he will be suspended between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation,” Clegg said. However, the possibility of a permanent deletion of Trump’s accounts – which Clegg had previously indicated could be the consequence of future violations if his account were to be restored – no longer appears to be on the table.
–CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.