- The US social media giant has called the suspension an “extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances”.
Social media giant Meta announced it will end a two-year suspension of former US President Donald Trump from its Facebook and Instagram platforms.
“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 statement.
The suspension was initially enacted on Jan. 7, 2021, a day after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election, which the Republican had lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
In one of his last Facebook posts 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 certification of the vote.
“Mike Pence did not dare to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution, allowing states to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones they were asked to pre-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 regressed sufficiently,” determining that it has.
However, Meta said it would put in place “new railings to deter recidivism.” These include “higher penalties” for repeat offenders, with additional suspensions that could last anywhere from one month to two years.
He also pledged to limit the distribution of posts that could contribute “to the kind of risk that materialized on Jan. 6,” during the attack on the Capitol, citing content that “delegitimizes an upcoming election.”
Meta may also “temporarily restrict access to our advertising tools” in the event of repeated violations. The company said these sanctions would also apply to “other public figures whose accounts are reinstated from suspensions related to civil unrest.”
The company has faced criticism for not doing more to censor hate speech, misinformation, and other violations of its content rules. In 2021, for example, Rohingya refugees filed a lawsuit against the owner of Facebook for his alleged role in promoting violence against the ethnic group in Myanmar.
Meta recently announced it would remove “content supporting or praising the storming of government buildings in Brazil on Jan. 8 this year, in another incident of far-right supporters trying to overturn an election. That attack has been widely compared to the 2021 Capitol riots in the United States.
Figures such as former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte have denounced Meta’s removal of controversial accounts and materials, as have prominent U.S. Republicans.
Trump founded his own social media company, Truth Social, in the wake of his removal from Meta and other social media companies.
On Wednesday, he posted on his Truth Social account about his reinstatement to Facebook and Instagram, saying, “Such a thing should never happen again to a sitting president or anyone else who doesn’t deserve retribution!”
Source: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES