Facebook parent Meta said Wednesday it will restore former President Donald Trump ’s personal account in the coming weeks, ending their “indefinite” suspension after just two years — and it will have a very big impact on the 2024 Republican presidential primary because it unleashes a major fundraising tool for the Trump campaign.
The company said in a blog post it is adding “new guardrails” to ensure there are no “repeat offenders” who violate its rules, even if they are political candidates or world leaders.
“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,” wrote Nick Clegg, Meta’s vice president of global affairs.
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Clegg added that when there is a “clear risk” to real-world harm, Meta will intervene and silence Trump.
“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,” he wrote. Facebook suspended Trump on Jan. 7, 2021, for praising people engaged in violent acts at the Capitol a day earlier. But the company had resisted earlier calls — including from its own employees — to remove Trump’s account.
Meta said Trump’s accounts will be restored “in the coming weeks” on both Facebook and Instagram. Since the ban, Trump has been relying on Truth Social, which he launched after being blocked from Twitter.
Facebook is not only the world’s largest social media site, but had been a crucial source of fundraising revenue for Trump’s campaigns, which spent millions of dollars on the company’s ads in 2016 and 2020. 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, but couldn’t run ads directly from him or in his voice.
Responding to the news, Trump blasted Facebook’s original decision to suspend his account as he praised Truth Social.
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“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! THANK YOU TO TRUTH SOCIAL FOR DOING SUCH AN INCREDIBLE JOB. YOUR GROWTH IS OUTSTANDING, AND FUTURE UNLIMITED!!!” he wrote.
Other social media companies, including Snapchat, where he remains suspended, also kicked him off their platforms following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. He was recently reinstated on Twitter after Elon Musk took over the company. He has not tweeted yet.
The far-Left ACLU called it the right 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,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“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.”
Meta isn’t ready to embrace free speech quite yet. If Trump posts material that doesn’t violate Facebook’s rules but is ruled “otherwise harmful,” Meta says it will not remove it but may “shadow ban” it by limiting its reach. This includes praising the QAnon conspiracy theory or questioning the legitimacy of an upcoming election.
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While Trump has insisted publicly that he has no intention of returning to Twitter, he has been discussing doing so in recent weeks, according to two people familiar with the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Though it has been eclipsed culturally by newer rivals like TikTok, Facebook remains the world’s largest social media site and is an incredibly powerful political platform, particularly among older Americans, who are most likely to vote and give money to campaigns.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article