Social media giant Meta announced, on Wednesday, that it will end the suspension of Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks, two years after the former US president was banned following an attack on the Capitol building.
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“The public needs to be able to hear what politicians are saying so they can make informed decisions,” Meta’s head of international affairs, Nick Clegg, said in a statement.
But that doesn’t mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform. When there is a risk of real-world harm — a risk so great as to warrant meta-interference in the public debate — we act,” he said.
The former US head of state, the 2024 presidential candidate, was removed from the social network on January 7, 2021, while still in power, because he encouraged his supporters during the congressional attack on Washington the day before.
This unprecedented decision at the time was imitated by most mainstream social networks, including Twitter.
In June 2021, Facebook decided that the exclusion would last for two years, and that the Republican billionaire would only return when the “risks to public safety” had “disappeared”.
Comment “It must never happen again to a sitting president or anyone who does not deserve sanctions!” Donald Trump responded from his account on Truth Social, the social network he launched last year.
Last week, the former boss officially asked to return to Facebook.
His lawyer sent a letter to the founder and chairman of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, asking him not to “silence the presidential candidate.”
The politician had already re-entered Twitter on November 19, 2022, four days after announcing his candidacy for the 2024 election. However, he has yet to post a message on this account, mainly communicating through his own platform, TruthSocial.
Meta “made the right decision. Like it or not, Mr. Trump is one of the nation’s leading political figures and it’s in the public interest for you to hear what he has to say,” responded Anthony Romero, director of the ACLU’s powerful Civil Rights Union.
It also notes that “some of the most shocking messages Trump has posted on social media have been used as evidence against him and his administration in lawsuits.”
“It is a disastrous and irresponsible decision by Meta, which will fuel (…) the spread of hate and misinformation,” commented the “Facebook Real Oversight Board”, a very critical association of the social network, for its part.
“We know any decision on this subject will be severely criticized,” said Nick Clegg.
The world’s second largest online advertising is at the center of debate between proponents of stricter content moderation, of clean up platforms – generally on the left of the American political spectrum – and those who accuse big platforms of “censorship”, especially against Republicans, without evidence.
” abnormal “
Nick Clegg said suspending a president from power was an “extraordinary decision made in exceptional circumstances”.
Meta determined that “the risk to public safety has diminished enough” to reinstate the president’s accounts, but with new safeguards, including against repeat offenders, to deter further breaches of the two social networks’ rules.
Indeed, the company adopted a new network of sanctions in 2021, after a particularly tense US presidential campaign on the platforms and the invasion of the Capitol on the day of formalizing Joe Biden’s victory.
In addition to backing his supporters that day, Donald Trump has been hammering his “big lie” theory for months – unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him.
“If Mr. Trump posts infringing content again, it will be removed and he will be suspended for between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the offense,” Nick Clegg detailed.
In doing so, Meta will be able to curb the spread of messages that do not pose tangible risks but contribute to “undermining the legitimacy of elections.”