Trump to return to Facebook after two-year ban

The US social media giant has called the suspension ‘extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances’.

Donald Trump was banned from Facebook after his supporters stormed the Capitol two years ago [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

The social media giant Meta has announced that it is ending a two-year suspension of former United States President Donald Trump from its Facebook and Instagram platforms.

Calling the suspension an “extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances”, Meta issued a press release on its website on Wednesday saying it would allow Trump to return to its platforms “in the coming weeks”.

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“Social media is rooted in the belief that open debate and the free flow of ideas are important values, especially at a time when they are under threat in many places around the world,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, wrote in the release.

The suspension was initially enacted on January 7, 2021, the day after Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential elections, which the Republican had lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

In one of his last messages on Facebook before his suspension, Trump continued to spread misinformation about the election results, repeating the falsehood that the vote had been marred by fraud.

He also used the platform to denounce his vice president, Mike Pence, who had been overseeing the vote certification.

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify,” Trump wrote at the time.

In Wednesday’s decision, Meta said it set out to “assess whether the serious risk to public safety that existed in January 2021 has sufficiently receded”, determining that it had.

Nevertheless, Meta said it would put “new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses”. Among them are “heightened penalties” for repeat offenders, with further suspensions that could last anywhere from one month to two years.

It also pledged to limit the distribution of posts that may contribute “to the sort of risk that materialised on January 6”, during the Capitol attack, citing content that “delegitimises an upcoming election”.

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