Former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts are being reinstated, the social media giant Meta announced Wednesday — a little more than two years after he was suspended from the platforms over incendiary posts about the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Trump’s accounts will be reinstated “in the coming weeks” with “new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said in a statement. Meta owns Facebook and Instagram.
The guardrails will include "heightened penalties for repeat offenses — penalties which will apply to other public figures whose accounts are reinstated from suspensions related to civil unrest under our updated protocol,” Clegg said on the company’s website. “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."
Trump celebrated the announcement on his social media platform, Truth Social.
"FACEBOOK, which has lost Billions of Dollars in value since 'deplatforming' your favorite President, me, has just announced that they are reinstating my account. Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving of retribution!" he wrote.
Asked why Meta was reinstating Trump despite recent inflammatory posts on Truth Social, Clegg said the company wanted to tread lightly on censorship concerns.
“We’re not trying to kind of, you know, censor everything that everyone says in an open and free democracy," Clegg said in an interview with NBC News’ Hallie Jackson. "We think that open and free debate on the rough and tumble of democratic debate should play out on Facebook and Instagram as much as anywhere else.”
Clegg contended that Meta has demonstrated a willingness to “draw a very sharp line,” knowing that what is posted on Facebook and Instagram can lead to real-world harm, and that it “will act, and we have acted.”
Asked whether an effort by Trump to delegitimize an election by lying about it would lead to another suspension, Clegg suggested that it would not, unless it clearly led to "imminent and real-world harm." Instead, he said, the company would “take action to restrict the circulation of that content.”
Meta lifted Trump's suspension weeks after the time frame Facebook gave itself to re-evaluate the 2021 ban and shortly after Republicans — many of whom have criticized Facebook’s decision — regained control of the House.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., then the minority leader, vowed to “rein in big tech power over our speech” after Facebook announced the length of Trump’s suspension in 2021.
Trump’s presidential campaign officially petitioned Facebook to allow Trump back on to the platform this month.
“We believe that the ban on President Trump’s account on Facebook has dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse,” Trump’s campaign wrote in its Jan. 17 letter to Meta, according to a copy reviewed by NBC News.
A Trump adviser, who spoke this month on the condition of anonymity, said Trump’s campaign was prepared to turn to his allies in the House to pressure Facebook if necessary.
“If Facebook wants to have this fight, fine, but the House is leverage, and keeping Trump off Facebook just looks political,” the adviser said.
Clegg told NBC News that there have been “no discussions” with Trump’s team about his reinstatement, “nor should there be.”
Facebook announced in June 2021 that it was banning Trump from Facebook and Instagram until at least this month for a “severe violation of our rules” stemming from his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.
The accounts were first suspended after Trump offered warm words for the rioters in a pair of messages in which he asked that they go home, calling them “very special” and “great patriots.”
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love in peace. Remember this day forever!” he said in one of the posts.
The ban was initially scheduled to last 24 hours, but it was extended until the end of his term by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said the “risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”
BDST: 1023 HRS, JAN 26, 2023