Donald Trump returns to Facebook

Two years after suspending Donald Trump from its platforms, the Meta group announces that it has decided not to extend its sanctions. Even if he expects not to convince everyone, Meta indicates that he is putting in place a regulation so that he no longer has to make arbitrary decisions.

After Twitter (on a decision by Elon Musk), Facebook and Instagram in turn restore Donald Trump’s account. The former American president, suspended in January 2021 after the Capitol assaults, had suddenly been excluded from Facebook and Instagram because of messages suspected of inciting revolt. A logically controversial decision, due to its unprecedented nature, which had led Meta’s “supreme council” to question the powers of the company. The organization said it understood the decision, while contesting it. Meta had then framed this suspension in time, so that the banishment of the former American president is questioned two years after its entry into force.

On January 25, 2023, Meta announces on its page dedicated to the press not to extend the banishment of Donald Trump, which was due to “extreme and very unusual circumstances”. Mark Zuckerberg’s company is taking the opportunity to set itself new rules, in order to frame the banishment of political figures with very strict rules. “The question is not whether we should reinstate Mr. Trump’s accounts, but whether extraordinary circumstances remain to justify the suspension going beyond the initial two-year period. »

Meta prefers to reduce the visibility of controversial messages

The debate submitted by Meta is interesting. Should a social network regulate what a politician has the right to say on his platform? Two years after the Capitol, Meta seems to have decided. “Citizens need to be able to hear what their politicians are saying, good and bad, so they can make informed choices at the ballot box”. Meta therefore goes back on its previous policy, while indicating that it will maintain strict rules so that the public debate goes well.

Mark Zuckerberg at the White House, end of September 2019. // Source: Facebook

Concretely, if a politician publishes a dangerous message that does not respect the conditions of use of Facebook or Instagram, the Meta group reserves the right to intervene. However, his intervention should rarely lead to a suspension. Meta wants to leave controversial posts on the profile of their author, but indicates that they will be banned from its users’ newsfeed, even if they follow the policy in question. Meta also says it will ban ads on controversial posts, to limit their visibility.

What about suspensions? Meta will only act if the offenses are repeated. “In the event that Mr. Trump posts other content that violates the law, the content will be removed and he will be suspended for between one month and two years, depending on the seriousness of the violation”. This is a real difference with Elon Musk’s Twitter, which does not seem at all willing to act (even if Elon Musk has already contradicted himself by blocking Kanye West because of anti-Semitic posts). Note, however, that the suspension should never exceed two years, which differs from 2021.

A wise decision, destined to be challenged?

Meta is not fooled, his decisions will be challenged. However, Mark Zuckerberg’s group sees it as a sign of their wisdom. “Many people believe that companies like Meta should remove a lot more content than what we are doing now. Others argue that our current policies already make us authoritarian censors”. In other words, Meta considers that he is not doing his job that badly. Even if its measurements are not sharp.

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