March 25, 2023

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Trump back soon on Facebook and Instagram, after two years of suspension

The social networking giant Meta announced on Wednesday January 25 that it would, in the coming weeks, “end suspension” accounts of Donald Trump on Facebook and Instagram, two years after the exclusion of the former American president following the assault on the Capitol in Washington.

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“The public must be able to hear what politicians are saying so they can make informed choices”justified Nick Clegg, the head of international affairs at Meta, in a press release.

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“But that doesn’t mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform. When there is a risk of harm in the real world – a high risk that justifies Meta’s intervention in the public debate – we act”he specified.

An unprecedented decision

The Republican, 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 the day before during the attack on Congress which aimed to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory. This unprecedented decision was imitated at the time by most mainstream social networks, including Twitter, where he was very verbose.

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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” would have ” gone “.

Suspension “should never again happen to a sitting president or anyone else who doesn’t deserve punishment!” »responded Donald Trump from his account on Truth Social, the social network he launched last year.

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Re-listed to Twitter since November

Last week, the former president officially asked to be able to return to Facebook. His lawyer had written a letter to Meta founder and chairman Mark Zuckerberg, calling on him not to “Silence a presidential candidate”.

The politician was previously re-admitted to Twitter in November 2022, shortly after declaring his candidacy for the 2024 White House race. However, he has yet to post a message on this account, communicating mainly through of its own platform, Truth Social.

But the reach of Truth Social is much reduced compared to what Donald Trump had before. “Trump needs [Facebook] to raise funds »recently pointed out on Twitter Andrew Selepak, professor of media and technology at the University of Florida.

“A calamitous and irresponsible decision”

Meta took “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.

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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”.

“This is a calamitous and irresponsible decision by Meta, which will […] fueling the spread of hate and misinformation”for his part commented on the “real Facebook supervisory board”, a very critical association of the social network.

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Faced with criticism, Meta assumes: “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 the Republicans, without proof.

Suspending a president from office was “an extraordinary decision, taken in extraordinary circumstances”, recalled Nick Clegg. Meta determined that “the risk to public safety had sufficiently diminished” to let Donald Trump return, but with the new safeguards in place, in particular against repeat offenders, to deter new breaches of the regulations of the two social networks.