A decision on whether Donald Trump will be allowed back on Facebook could arrive any time soon, effectively ending his ban from the biggest social media networks.
Meta, formerly Facebook Inc., which also owns Instagram, is set to decide whether to let the former president back on its platforms after Trump was suspended in the wake of the January 6 attack.
Trump was initially suspended on January 7, 2021, for at least two weeks after praising the Capitol rioters in a Facebook video and telling them, “We love you, you’re very special,” before asking them to go home.
Trump’s account was also suspended on fears he would use his account to incite violence ahead of Joe Biden‘s inauguration ceremony.
In June 2021, Meta confirmed that Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts would be suspended for two years effective from January 7, 2021, and that he would only be allowed to return if the “risk to public safety has receded.”
“If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Meta, said in a June 2021 statement.
“When the suspension is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr. Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts.”
In a statement, a Meta spokesperson told Newsweek that the company “will announce a decision in the coming weeks in line with the process we laid out.”
One key factor influencing the decision-making would be Trump’s 2024 presidential run, which he announced on November 15, 2022.
According to an internal Facebook memo obtained by CNN following Trump’s announcement, the former president’s 2024 bid will exempt him from third-party fact-checkers on the platform. Per Meta’s own rules on fact-checking, politicians’ ads and posts are not eligible for fact-checks and will not be restricted “out of respect for the democratic process.”
Critics have expressed fears that this could mean Trump will use the platform to spread falsehoods about election fraud should he be allowed to return to Facebook.
Kayla Gogarty, deputy research director at Media Matters for America, who launched the “Keep Trump Off Facebook” campaign, told Insider, “If Meta allows him back on, it’s essentially giving Trump a green light to push election misinformation again, dangerous rhetoric and extremism to millions of users who would not otherwise have access to it.”
However, the question remains whether Trump will want to use Facebook and Instagram should he be allowed to.
Trump was suspended from Twitter in the wake of the January 6 attack over fears he would abuse his most frequently used social media platform to incite further violence.
Following Elon Musk‘s $44 billion takeover of Twitter, Trump’s account was restored in November.
Trump has yet to use his Twitter account since it was returned to him and has chosen to post frequently on Truth Social, the social network he created after being banned from Twitter.
Trump has dismissed any suggestions he will return to Twitter and leave Truth Social—a platform where he now has more than 4.7 million followers—behind.
“It’s doing phenomenally well. The press hates to talk about it, but it’s doing phenomenally well. I think engagement is much better than it is with Twitter,” Trump said at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting on November 19.
“Truth Social has been very, very powerful, very, very strong, and I’ll be staying there.”
In a January 5 Truth Social post, Trump suggested that Facebook is “very poorly” since he was banned and claimed that it had since “lost $750 Billion in value, and has become very boring.
“Whoever made that decision, and the decision to take me off, will go down in the Business Hall of Fame for two of the worst decisions in Business History,” Trump added.