An image of President Donald Trump appears on video screens before his speech to supporters from the Ellipse at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress prepares to certify Electoral College votes.

Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Meta will allow former President Donald Trump to return to Facebook and Instagram in the coming weeks, the company announced, two years after his suspension was put into effect following the 2021 U.S. Capitol uprising.

“As a general rule, we do not want to discourage open, public and democratic debate on Meta’s platforms, especially in the context of elections in democratic societies such as the US,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s President of Global Affairs. , wrote in a blog post announcing the decision. “The public should be able to hear what their politicians have to say – the good, the bad and the ugly – so they can make an informed choice at the ballot box.”

facebook, Twitter and Google– belongs YouTube all made the unprecedented decision to block a sitting US president from their platforms at the time, after they determined it outweighed the risk of potentially inciting further violence. However, the platforms’ bans varied in degree, with Twitter opting for a permanent ban while Facebook said the suspension was temporary, eventually setting a two-year deadline for a review of the decision.

The suspensions came after crowds packed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as lawmakers worked to certify the election of President Joe Biden. Then-Vice President Mike Pence was whisked away to safety by the Secret Service, aware of the danger he was in as he observed what is usually routine in Congress.

While at one point Trump urged the crowd to remain calm, he also fueled the lie that the election was “stolen from us,” tweeting later in the day that Pence “didn’t have the guts to do what needed to be done to do.” to protect our country and our Constitution,” allegedly by interfering with the election results that denied Trump a second term.

“The suspension was an extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances,” Clegg wrote. “Now that the suspension has expired, the question is not whether we decide to reinstate Mr. Trump’s accounts, but whether there remain such extraordinary circumstances that an extension of the suspension beyond the initial two-year period is warranted.”

Clegg said Meta took into account the conduct surrounding last year’s US midterm elections and expert assessments of the security environment in making the decision. As a result, the company concluded “that the risk has sufficiently decreased and therefore we should stick to the two-year schedule that we have set.”

Establishing a two-year suspension

In the past, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have removed or flagged certain posts by the president that they deemed harmful before eventually deciding to block his account.

On the evening of January 6, 2021, Facebook said that “two policy violations” on Trump’s page would result in a 24-hour ban on its platforms. The next day, the company said in a statement that “the risks of allowing President Trump to continue using our service during this period are simply too great,” and said the ban would remain in effect “for at least the next two weeks,” through the inauguration.

On the day of Biden’s inauguration, the company said it was referring the suspension to its independent Oversight Board, created by Facebook to make binding decisions on content. The oversight board said Facebook must set a timeline for a review of its decision, which Facebook set for June 2021, two years after Trump was ousted from office on Jan. 7, 2021.

In a blog post announcing the timeline, Facebook chief executive Nick Clegg said the decision to reinstate Trump’s account would be based on “whether the risk to public safety has decreased,” taking into account “incidents of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly, and other indications.” . civil unrest”.

If Trump is allowed back into office, Clegg said at the time, there will be “a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be put in place if Mr. Trump commits further violations in the future, up to and including the permanent removal of his pages and account.”

Trump has since taken his musings to Truth Social, an app he supports that looks a lot like Twitter and is run by former Rep. Devin Nunes, D-Calif.

New Twitter owner Elon Musk lifted the platform’s suspension of Trump last year, although the former president has yet to reinstate tweets from his account.

This story is evolving. Check for updates.

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