Social media giant Meta announced on Wednesday that it would “end the suspension” of Donald Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram in the coming weeks, two years after the former US president was banned following a the assault on the Capitol.
“The public needs to be able to hear what politicians are saying so they can make informed choices,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s head of international affairs, said in a statement.
“But that doesn’t mean there aren’t limits to what people can say on our platform. public debate – we are taking action,” he said.
The former American head of state, presidential candidate of 2024, had been excluded from the social network on January 7, 2021, while he was still in power, for having encouraged his supporters during the attack on Congress to Washington the day before.
This unprecedented decision was imitated at the time by most mainstream social networks, including Twitter.
In June 2021, Facebook had decided that the exclusion would last two years, and that the Republican billionaire could only return when the “risks to public safety” had “disappeared”.
The suspension “should never again happen to a sitting president or to anyone who does not deserve sanctions!”, reacted Donald Trump from his account on Truth Social, the social network he launched last year. last.
Last week, the former president officially asked to be able to return to Facebook.
His lawyer had sent a letter to the founder and president of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, calling on him not to “reduce a presidential candidate to silence”.
– Debate –
The politician had already been readmitted to Twitter on November 19, 2022, four days after declaring his candidacy for the 2024 election. However, he has not yet posted a message on this account, communicating mainly through his own platform, TruthSocial.
Meta made “the right decision. Like it or not, Mr. Trump is one of the leading political figures in the country and it is in the public interest to hear what he has to say”, reacted Anthony Romero, the director of the powerful association of civil rights ACLU.
He further 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 calamitous and irresponsible decision by Meta, which will (…) fuel the spread of hatred and misinformation”, for its part commented on the “real Facebook supervisory board”, a very critical association. of the social network.
“We know that any decision on this subject will be fiercely criticized,” said Nick Clegg.
The world number two in online advertising is at the heart of the debate between supporters of stricter content moderation, to clean up the platforms – generally on the left of the American political spectrum – and those who accuse the big platforms of ” censorship”, especially against Republicans, without proof.
– “Extraordinary” –
Suspending a president from power was “an extraordinary decision, taken in extraordinary circumstances”, recalled Nick Clegg.
Meta determined that “the risk to public safety has diminished enough” to reinstate the president’s accounts, but with new safeguards in place, including against repeat offenders, to deter further breaches of the rules of the two social networks.
The company had, in fact, adopted a new grid of sanctions in 2021, after a particularly tense American presidential campaign on the platforms and the invasion of the Capitol on the day of the formalization of Joe Biden’s victory.
In addition to his support for his supporters that day, Donald Trump had been hammering his “Big Lie” theory for months – unfounded allegations that the 2020 presidential election had been “stolen” from him.
“If Mr. Trump posts any 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,” Clegg said.
Meta will thus be able to curb the spread of messages that do not pose concrete risks but contribute to “undermining the legitimacy of an election”.