Facebook may lift former President Donald Trump’s suspension in January 2023, Meta Platforms executive Nick Clegg said Thursday.
Trump lost his direct link with his supporters when he was banned from the country’s major social media platforms after the siege on Capitol Hill.
Returning to Facebook would be a boon for political outreach and fundraising should Trump run for president again in 2024. In 2016 and 2020, Trump turned to Facebook to energize his base and raise money for the campaign.
Without its social media megaphones, it has relied on its Truth Social app, which has a much more limited reach.
At an event sponsored by the Semafor news organization, Clegg said the company would consult experts and weigh the risk of public harm, said Clegg, president of global affairs.
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“When you make a decision that affects the public realm, you have to be very cautious,” Clegg told Semafor managing editor Steve Clemons. “You shouldn’t be throwing your weight around.”
Trump had 35 million followers on Facebook and also had a presence on Instagram.
Executive director Susan Wojcicki said last year that YouTube would lift Trump’s ban “when we determine that the risk of violence has decreased.”
Twitter permanently banned Trump. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who is seeking to void his deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion, indicated that he would allow Trump to return to the social media platform where he had more than 88 million followers.
Trump’s disqualification sparked outrage among conservatives, who said Facebook and other major social media platforms routinely censor his speech.
At the time, Trump called Google’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube “a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our country.”
Angelo Carusone, president of the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America, issued a statement.
“Nick Clegg confirmed what we’ve known and warned all along: Facebook has every intention of restoring Donald Trump’s account,” Carusone said.
“Clegg could have easily seen that Trump’s active promotion of QAnon and continued attempts to nullify the 2020 election would not only be a violation of Facebook’s policies, but certainly an indicator of real-world harm that make it unlikely that the platform will reinstate his account. Instead, he indicated that, like when Trump was active on the platform, Facebook remains unwilling to apply or enforce its own rules against Trump.”