By BARBARA ORTUTAY and JILL COLVIN
WASHINGTON (AP) —Facebook parent Meta is reinstating former President Donald Trump's personal account after a two-year suspension following the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The company said in a blog post Wednesday it is adding “new guardrails” to ensure there are no “repeat offenders” who violate its rules.
“In the event that Mr. Trump posts further violating content, the content will be removed and he will be suspended for between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation,” wrote Nick Clegg, Meta's vice president of global affairs.
Trump, in a post on his own social media network, blasted Facebook’s decision to suspend his account as he praised his own site, Truth Social.
“FACEBOOK, which has lost Billions of Dollars in value since “deplatforming” your favorite President, me, has just announced that they are reinstating my account. Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving of retribution!” he wrote.
He was suspended on Jan. 7, a day after the deadly 2021 insurrection. Other social media companies also kicked him off their platforms, though he was recently reinstated on Twitter after Elon Musk took over the company. He has not tweeted.
Civil rights groups and others were quick to denounce Meta's move. Letting Trump back on Facebook sends a signal to other figures with large online audiences that they may break the rules without lasting consequences, said Heidi Beirich, founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism and a member of a group called the Real Facebook Oversight Board that has criticized the platform’s efforts.
“I am not surprised but it is a disaster,” Beirich said of Meta’s decision. “Facebook created loopholes for Trump that he went right through. He incited an insurrection on Facebook. And now he’s back.”
Clegg said that in light of his previous violations, Trump now faces heightened penalties for repeat offenses. Such penalties “will apply to other public figures whose accounts are reinstated from suspensions related to civil unrest under our updated protocol.”
If Trump — or anyone else — posts material that doesn't violate Facebook's rules but is otherwise harmful and could lead to events such as the Jan. 6 insurrection, Meta says it will not remove it but will limit its reach. This includes praising the QAnon conspiracy theory or trying to delegitimize an upcoming election.
Meta said Trump's accounts will be restored in the coming weeks on Facebook and on Instagram. Banned from mainstream social media, Trump has been relying on Truth Social, which he launched after being blocked from Twitter.