Meta Platforms announced Wednesday that it would end the suspension of former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, but a Heritage Foundation expert warns that this move does not excuse the company’s “deliberate interference” in the 2020 presidential election and other races.
“We will be ending the suspension of Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks,” Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, announced in a release.
Clegg noted Meta’s view that “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.” He argued that Meta suspended Trump’s accounts only “following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.”
Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the decision but criticized its open-ended nature, so Meta responded with a time-bound suspension of two years beginning Jan. 7, 2021.
Trump took to his alternative social media platform, Truth Social, to blast Facebook following news of the decision.
“FACEBOOK, which has lost Billions of Dollars in value since ‘deplatforming’ your favorite President, me, has just announced that they are reinstating my account,” the former president wrote. “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!!!”
Jake Denton, research associate in The Heritage Foundation’s Tech Policy Center, praised Meta’s decision to lift the suspension but noted that it doesn’t excuse the company’s previous moves. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“No candidate for public office should ever be banned or suspended from a social media platform,” Denton told The Daily Signal in an email. “While it is encouraging to see Meta restore President Trump’s access to the platform, it does not excuse their deliberate interference in past electoral cycles, nor their demonstrated bias against conservatives.”
“While it is uncertain whether Trump will utilize Meta’s platforms in the 2024 presidential cycle, this is a critical step towards leveling the playing field and ensuring each candidate has equal access to the tools necessary to campaign in this growingly digitized political environment,” Denton added.
Trump Media & Technology Group, the company that owns Truth Social, has a contract with the former president requiring him to post on Truth Social before he posts on any other platform. That’s according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last May amid the Trump group’s proposed merger with Digital World Acquisition Group, a special purpose acquisition company.
The merger remains incomplete, but the agreement stipulates that Trump “is generally obligated to make any social media post on Truth Social and may not make the same post on another social media site for 6 hours.”
Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, reinstated the former president’s account in November, but Trump has yet to post on that platform.
The prospect of Trump’s return to Facebook and Twitter may weaken Truth Social’s prospects, and Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign may turn to Facebook and Twitter for fundraising.
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