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Trump tries to get back on Facebook, claims ban is electoral “interference”

Police hold back a large group of Trump supporters on the day of the attack on the US Capitol.
Enlarge / Police hold back Trump supporters outside the US Capitol’s Rotunda on January 6, 2021.

Getty Images | Olivier Douliery/AFP

Former US President Donald Trump yesterday petitioned Facebook owner Meta to restore his account, two years after he was banned for egging on his supporters as they attacked the US Capitol. “We believe that the ban on President Trump’s account on Facebook has dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse,” Trump’s campaign wrote in a letter to Meta Tuesday, according to NBC News.

The Trump team’s letter also reportedly said that a continuation of the ban would constitute a “deliberate effort by a private company to silence Mr. Trump’s political voice… every day that President Trump’s political voice remains silenced furthers an inappropriate interference in the American political and election process.” The letter was sent to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Meta VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, and Facebook VP of Public Policy Joel Kaplan.

Twitter already reversed its ban on Trump shortly after Elon Musk bought the company. Trump hasn’t tweeted yet. He formed his own social network, Truth Social, after being banned from Facebook and Twitter.

In its petition to Meta, “Trump’s campaign didn’t threaten a lawsuit, as some sources close to Trump thought he would,” NBC News wrote. “It instead talked about the importance of free speech and petitioned Meta for a ‘meeting to discuss President Trump’s prompt reinstatement to the platform.'”

Trump team ready for a fight

A Trump adviser told NBC News that the campaign is “prepared to engage with House Republicans who control the lower chamber of Congress to advocate on Trump’s behalf and pressure Meta.”

“If Facebook wants to have this fight, fine, but the House is leverage, and keeping Trump off Facebook just looks political,” the adviser said.

We contacted Meta and will update this article if we get a response. According to NBC News, “A Meta spokesperson declined to comment about Trump beyond saying the company ‘will announce a decision in the coming weeks in line with the process we laid out.'”

When Facebook and Instagram blocked Trump’s accounts and removed some of his posts, Zuckerberg criticized Trump for using his platform “to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building” and “to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.” Trump has baselessly claimed that the election he lost to Joe Biden was stolen.

Meta “will look to experts” on Trump decision

Facebook’s ban on Trump was initially set for at least two weeks and was later extended until at least January 7, 2023. “At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded,” Facebook VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg wrote at the time. “We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.”

“When the suspension is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr. Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts,” Clegg further wrote.

US Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) last month wrote a letter urging Meta to keep Trump off Facebook, stating:

Trump has continued to post harmful election content on Truth Social that would likely violate Facebook’s policies, and we have every reason to believe he would bring similar conspiratorial rhetoric back to Facebook, if given the chance. On Election Day this year, Trump perpetrated false election narratives, including unfounded claims that, “The Absentee Ballot situation in Detroit is REALLY BAD…Protest, Protest, Protest!” Similarly, he posted that, “Maricopa County in Arizona looks like a complete Voter Integrity DISASTER. Likewise Detroit (of course!), Pennsylvania, and other places. Not being covered by Fake News Media!” A later post claimed, “Arizona even said ‘by the end of the week!’ – They want more time to cheat! Kari Lake MUST win!”

“For Meta to credibly maintain a legitimate election integrity policy, it is essential that your company maintain its platform ban on former president Trump,” Schiff and Whitehouse wrote.

As for whether Trump will use his newly restored Twitter account, NBC News quoted an anonymous Republican who said it is likely. “‘Trump is probably coming back to Twitter. It’s just a question of how and when,’ said a Republican who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations with Trump about returning to the platform,” according to NBC News. “‘He’s been talking about it for weeks, but Trump speaks for Trump, so it’s anyone’s guess what he’ll do or say or when.'”

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