Meta Explains Why It's Letting Trump Back On Facebook

A day after the riots at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, Facebook parent company Meta made the decision to ban Donald Trump from its social media platforms. This wasn't a permanent ban, but rather the longest suspension Meta had issued for someone: two years. Trump was similarly banned from Twitter, something Elon Musk reversed soon after taking control of the company — though Trump didn't return as expected, resulting in Musk sharing memes in an attempt to lure him back.

"The suspension was an extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances," Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said in a new blog post that explains why the company is reinstating the account. Among other things, Clegg says that the company has concluded that "the risk has sufficiently receded" in regard to the present-day political and social climates. However, Meta promises that Trump's return won't be without a leash — or, as the company describes its new efforts, "guardrails."

Meta vows harsher penalties for repeat violations

Meta's blog post is a long one that digs into the reasoning behind Trump's Facebook and Instagram bans, as well as the reason the company has decided to reinstate them — something that will happen "in the coming weeks," according to Clegg. Once he does return to the platform — assuming he doesn't snub it in the same way as Twitter — Trump will be faced with certain "guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses," Meta says.

Among other things, Meta says that Trump is on thin ice due to having previously violated its policies. For this reason, should he return and then commit "repeat offenses," Meta warns that he will be suspended for up to another two years, though the duration could be as short as a single month. The duration ultimately depends on what the violation is, should it happen. 

Clegg acknowledges that Meta's decision "will be fiercely criticized" regardless of whether it maintains Trump's suspension or lets him back. In explaining its reason for reinstating the account, the company says, "As a general rule, we don't want to get in the way of open, public and democratic debate ... the public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying."