Experts are criticizing Facebook parent company Meta for its decision to allow ex-president Donald Trump to return to its platform two years after CEO Mark Zuckerberg cited the “use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government” as the basis for an immediate ban of the then-outgoing president.
“The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box,” Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, the former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said in a statement announcing it is lifting its suspension of the ex-president despite his increased engagement with far right extremists.
“We know that any decision we make on this issue will be fiercely criticized,” Clegg said. “Reasonable people will disagree over whether it is the right decision. But a decision had to be made, so we have tried to make it as best we can in a way that is consistent with our values and the process we established in response to the Oversight Board’s guidance.”
Meta could have allowed its suspension to stand, pointing to the many criminal investigations into Trump, or the rise of hate and fascism in the U.S. and around the world. Meta could also have examined Trump’s posts on his own social media platform, Truth Social, and determined if they met Facebook’s community standards.
After Meta published its decision, Media Matters for America re-posted its 2021 investigation of more than 6000 of Trump’s tweets “before he was suspended, we found that Trump used his Facebook page to attack others and spread misinformation. Such posts made up roughly 24% of his total posts and roughly 36% of all his interactions.”
Many are expressing anger, outrage, and concern at Meta’s decision, while some are calling up “dangerous.”
The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE), founded by former Southern Poverty Law Center researchers, warns that “Facebook’s decision to let Trump back on is dangerous and shortsighted.”
“Time and time again, we’ve seen Trump’s lies and rhetoric spread hate, incite violence, and undermine democracies,” it writes. “With its nearly three billion active users, Facebook’s move to welcome Trump back shows its willingness to be complicit in the spread of hate and extremism.”
Attorneys and lawmakers are also criticizing the decision.
“Trump incited an insurrection. And tried to stop the peaceful transfer of power,” warned U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), an attorney who until January chaired the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff was a lead investigator for the House’s first impeachment of Trump, and the lead impeachment manager for the second.
Trump has “shown no remorse. No contrition,” Schiff continued. “Giving him back access to a social media platform to spread his lies and demagoguery is dangerous.”
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now a professor of law, MSNBC legal contributor, and podcast host, appeared to pin the blame for Meta’s decision to reinstate Trump on Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“The real issue here is that our criminal justice system, more than 2 years out, has failed to hold Trump accountable,” she wrote on twice, pointing to an article announcing Trump’s return to Facebook. “It does takes time to build a successful prosecution, but we are running out of it. As Meta’s decision shows, the clock is ticking.”
Pointing to Vance’s remarks, former congressman and former Republican Joe Walsh also pointed to Garland.
“THIS is the issue. We can debate whether Facebook should’ve suspended Trump to begin with (yes, Facebook had a right to, but I don’t think they should have) but there should be ZERO debate about our criminal justice system failing by not holding Trump accountable by now.”
SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah, a journalist and attorney, also appeared to blame Garland.
“Meta says it will restore Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. Only in America can you attempt a coup and incite a terrorist attack and get ZERO punishment!! Thanks Merrick Garland!”
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who is also the House Democratic Senior Chief Deputy Whip, was one of several who called the decision to allow Trump to return “dangerous.”
“This is a dangerous decision,” she warned. “Reinstating former President Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will only fan the flames of hatred and division that led to an insurrection. Meta has had ‘guardrails’ in place that have been repeatedly ignored for high-profile accounts.”
“The reinstatement of Trump’s accounts shows that there is no low Mark Zuckerberg will not stoop to in order to reverse Meta’s cratering revenue and stagnant consumer growth,” Schakowsky said, “even if it means ‘DAMAGING OUR DEMOCRACY’.”
Former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, finds Meta’s decision “beyond unacceptable.”
“Meta says the risk posed by Donald Trump has ‘sufficiently receded.’ In what world?” he asks. “He is still posting lies and misinformation and vitriol on social media. He has never disavowed his attempt to overturn an election. This is beyond unacceptable.”
But attorney Tristan Snell, who successfully prosecuted the Trump University case for the New York Attorney General’s Office, offers a different point of view.
“I don’t care if Trump is back on Facebook. It’ll be tough for him to access his account from prison.”
Image: brian james cramer / Shutterstock
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