Trump's Facebook and Instagram reinstated after 2-year ban: Here's everything we know
The former president will be permitted to continue attacking the results of the 2020 election, Meta says, but will not be allowed to cast doubt on 2024.
Former President Donald Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts — which were suspended following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection — will be reinstated in the coming weeks following a two-year ban, parent company, Meta, said Wednesday.
The decision comes after Twitter lifted its ban on Trump following billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of the company. The former president, who now uses his own social media platform, Truth Social, to post messages, has not yet returned to Twitter. And Trump has not indicated if he will resume posting to his Facebook and Instagram accounts when they are restored.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What Meta is saying
In a blog post explaining the company’s decision, Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said that “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.”
In November, Trump announced his 2024 campaign for president.
“But that does not mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform,” Clegg added. “When there is a clear risk of real world harm — a deliberately high bar for Meta to intervene in public discourse — we act.”
On Jan. 7, 2021, Trump was suspended indefinitely by Facebook following his praise for the violent mob of supporters that stormed the Capitol building the day before. Twitter suspended him the next day, saying the decision would be permanent.
In June of that year, Facebook updated its suspension of Trump’s account, saying it would last at least two years from its original date.
“The suspension was an extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances,” Clegg said. “Now that the time period of the suspension has elapsed, the question is not whether we choose to reinstate Mr. Trump’s accounts, but whether there remain such extraordinary circumstances that extending the suspension beyond the original two-year period is justified.
“Our determination is that the risk has sufficiently receded, and that we should therefore adhere to the two-year timeline we set out. 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 offenses.”
What Trump is saying
In a post on his Truth Social account, Trump responded to being allowed back on Facebook by attacking Facebook.
“FACEBOOK, which has lost Billions of Dollars in value since ‘deplatforming’ your favorite President, me, has just announced that they are reinstating my account,” Trump wrote. “Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving of retribution!”
Trump did not indicate whether he would begin posting again on Facebook and Instagram when his suspension is lifted, but his campaign had lobbied Meta to reinstate him, with good reason. Facebook had been a crucial source of fundraising for his 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns.
As the Associated Press pointed out, the move, which comes as Trump is ramping up his third run for the White House, “will not only allow Trump to communicate directly with his 34 million followers — dramatically more than the 4.8 million who currently follow him on Truth Social — but will also allow him to resume direct fundraising.
“During the suspension, his supporters were able to raise money for him,” the AP noted, “but couldn't run ads directly from him or in his voice.”
What others are saying
Some were quick to criticize the decision to allow Trump back on Facebook.
“Trump incited an insurrection,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted. “And tried to stop the peaceful transfer of power. He’s shown no remorse. No contrition. Giving him back access to a social media platform to spread his lies and demagoguery is dangerous. @facebook caved, giving him a platform to do more harm.”
"During his presidency Trump used social media platforms such as Facebook to spread hate and incite violence,” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement. “There is no reason to believe the former president will behave differently now that the platform has reversed his ban. This isn’t a matter of free speech."
The American Civil Liberties Union, however, praised Meta’s move.
“Like it or not, President Trump is one of the country’s leading political figures and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech. Indeed, some of Trump’s most offensive social media posts ended up being critical evidence in lawsuits filed against him and his administration,” ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said in a statement. “The biggest social media companies are central actors when it comes to our collective ability to speak — and hear the speech of others — online. They should err on the side of allowing a wide range of political speech, even when it offends.”
What it means
When his accounts are reinstated, Trump will be permitted to post freely like any other user, but in light of the previous violations he “faces heightened penalties for repeat offenses,” according to the company. And the former president’s posts will undoubtedly be scrutinized by both the company and the media for potential violations.
A Meta spokesperson told CNN that Trump "will be permitted to attack the results of the 2020 election without facing consequences from the company." However, if he were to cast doubt on an upcoming election — such as the 2024 presidential race — the social media giant "will take action.”
“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,” Clegg said.
“We default to letting people speak, even when what they have to say is distasteful or factually wrong,” Clegg continued. “Democracy is messy and people should be able to make their voices heard. 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.
“We know that any decision we make on this issue will be fiercely criticized,” he added. “But a decision had to be made, so we have tried to make it as best we can in a way that is consistent with our values.”