SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 26 — Social networking giant Meta announced Tuesday that it would soon reinstate former US president Donald Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram with “new guardrails,” two years after he was banned over the 2021 assault on the Capitol.
“We will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks,” said a statement by Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, adding that the reinstatement would come with “new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”
Going forward, the Republican leader could be suspended for up to two years for each violation of platform policies, Clegg said.
It was not clear when or if Trump, who has already announced a third White House bid, will return to the platforms, and his representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But the 76-year-old tycoon reacted in a typically bullish fashion, crowing that Facebook had lost “billions of dollars” in value in his absence.
“Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving of retribution!” he said on his Truth Social platform.
Facebook banned Trump a day after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, when a mob of his supporters tried to halt the certification of his election defeat to Joe Biden by storming the US Capitol in Washington.
The former reality TV star had spent weeks falsely claiming that the presidential election was stolen from him and he was subsequently impeached for inciting the riot.
In a letter asking for the ban to be overturned, Trump’s lawyer Scott Gast said last week that Meta had “dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse.”
He asked for a meeting to discuss Trump’s “prompt reinstatement to the platform,” where he had 34 million followers, arguing that his status as the leading contender for the Republican nomination in 2024 justified ending the ban.
A US congressional committee recommended in December that Trump be prosecuted for his role in the Capitol assault.
His Twitter account, which has 88 million followers, was also blocked after the riot, leaving him to communicate through Truth Social, where he has fewer than five million followers.
Trump’s shock victory in 2016 was credited in part to his leverage of social media and his enormous digital reach.
New Twitter owner Elon Musk reinstated Trump’s account last November, days after the tycoon announced his decision to run for another term in the White House. He has yet to post. — AFP