Facebook officials said Wednesday that the social media platform has no plans to reinstate the account of former President Donald Trump, despite announcing his bid earlier this week for a second term in the White House in 2024.
Officials suspended Trump initially for only 24-hours after rioters hijacked the former president’s rally at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Other social media companies, including Youtube, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram, owned by Facebook’s parent company Meta, followed suit and suspended Trump’s accounts almost immediately.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, later placed an indefinite ban on Trump’s account on January 7, saying that “the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”
Ivy Choi, a spokeswoman for YouTube, told The Associated Press the video-sharing platform also has no plans to remove the suspension on Trump’s account.
Heidi Beirich, the founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism and a member of the Real Facebook Oversight Board, told The Associated Press that social media companies would be justified to extend such restrictions or permanently ban Trump on their platforms.
“The big problem is treating candidates as if they’re in a special category and deserve special treatment,” Beirich said. “If you have a set of rules, it should apply to everyone. The decision shouldn’t be a struggle.”
The oversight board told Facebook to set a time limit on the ban, which is set to expire on January 7, 2023 — two years after the initial suspension.
Since taking over Twitter last month, Elon Musk has yet to announce if he would reinstate Trump’s account. Musk has previously said that he disagreed with the platform’s decision to suspend Trump on Twitter.
Trump, however, still manages to get his message out to the public despite big tech’s push to censor him — whether it’s through his own social media platform Truth Social or other accounts sharing his statements.
Trump said on Truth Social on October 28 that his social media platform “looks and works better,” adding he was “very happy that Twitter is now in sane hands, and will no longer be run by the Radical Left Lunatics and Maniacs that truly hate our country.”
“Twitter must now work hard to rid itself of bots and fake accounts that have hurt it so badly,” Trump said in the post. “It will be much smaller, but better. I LOVE TRUTH!”
Trump’s fate on social media follows Meta officials announcing they would no longer fact-check the former U.S. president now that he’s officially running for office again.
According to a memo from Meta’s “news integrity partnership” team obtained by CNN, the announcement was sent out hours before Trump made his presidential bid on Tuesday.
The directive would help those “seeking guidance regarding fact-checking political speech,” which notes such speech is ineligible for fact-checking.
“This includes the words a politician says as well as photo, video, or other content that is clearly labeled as created by the politician or their campaign,” the memo reportedly stated.
Andy Stone, a Meta spokesperson, told CNN the memo was “a reiteration of our long-standing policy [and] should not be news to anyone.”
Earlier this month, an investigative report from The Intercept revealed hundreds of internal documents exposing top U.S. government agencies worked closely with social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to censor American freedom of speech — under the guise of fighting disinformation — over several years.
The report showed a “very cozy” relationship between government alphabet agencies like the FBI and DHS and tech giants, including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, Wikipedia, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Verizon Media, where they held monthly meetings — as recently as August — and exchanged emails and texts to shape online discourse.
A spokesperson from Twitter denied the allegations in a statement to The Intercept, saying the platform “[does] not coordinate with other entities when making content moderation decisions,” adding officials “independently evaluate content in line with the Twitter Rules.”