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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Internet: Facebook group Meta lifts ban for Trump

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After his Twitter account, Donald Trump also gets the accounts on Facebook and Instagram back. However, it is still unclear whether the former US President will make use of it.

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Former US President Donald Trump may return to Facebook and Instagram. The lock that has been in effect for two years will be lifted in the coming weeks, said Nick Clegg, head of politics at the Facebook group Meta.

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Trump’s accounts on major online platforms were blocked after his supporters stormed the seat of the US Parliament in Washington in January 2021. The Republican had expressed sympathy for the rioters in a video at the time. Trump had previously used his online channels for months to spread the false claim that he was cheated out of a win over Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The platforms feared at the time that Trump could unleash further violence if he continued to goad his supporters.

The Facebook group initially banned Trump until further notice. However, Meta’s independent oversight body, which can scrutinize content and account decisions, concluded that an indefinite ban was not covered by the platform’s rules. It decided that Trump’s accounts should initially only be blocked for two years – and then had to be reassessed.

It has now been concluded that there is no longer a risk to public safety, as there was in January 2021, Clegg explained. “The suspension was an extraordinary decision under extraordinary circumstances.”

Twitter declassified Trump’s account in November

At the same time, he emphasized that Trump had to abide by the rules of the platform and that he was threatened with harsher penalties for violations as a repeat offender. He could be banned for a month to two years. On his own online network Truth Social, Trump repeatedly publishes statements that would violate Meta’s rules against hate speech and libel.

In November, the new Twitter owner Elon Musk had already unlocked Trump’s account with the short message service. However, the ex-president has not used it so far and has stuck with his Twitter copy Truth Social.

However, given his intention to fight for a return to the White House in the 2024 presidential election, a greater presence on online platforms could come in handy for Trump. More than 80 million users followed him on Twitter – and he got the followers back when the account was restored. At Truth Social he only has a good 4.8 million subscribers.

Meta expects controversy

In a first reaction to the Facebook ban being lifted, Trump did not comment on his plans. He only pointed out that the stock market value of the Facebook group had fallen by billions during his absence. At the same time, he emphasized that such a ban should never happen again to an incumbent president and thanked Truth Social.

When the Twitter account was restored in November, Trump had expressly announced that he would prefer to continue with his own service. In an exclusive agreement, Trump assured Truth Social that he would first publish posts there. However, there are also possibilities for exceptions.

Meta braces for controversy if Trump returns to the platform, Clegg wrote. “Many people will call on us to take action against his account and the content he posts – while others will be upset if he gets banned again or some of his posts aren’t shared on our platform.” That’s why you want to be as transparent as possible with the rules and penalties.

Youtube continues to block Trump

The group was aware that any decision on Trump’s accounts would come under heavy criticism, wrote Clegg. “But a decision had to be made.” The meta manager and former British vice prime minister also pointed out that the group reserves the right to restrict the distribution of contributions on the platform. As an example, he cited statements that questioned the legality of upcoming elections or were related to the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon. While such posts might be visible in Trump’s account, they would not appear in the newsfeed of users who follow him.

Google’s YouTube video service continues to block Trump from the major online platforms. So far, the Google subsidiary has only said that the block will be lifted when the risk of violence has decreased.

Source: Stern

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