Meta is trying to come up with a decision on whether it will allow Donald Trump back onto Facebook and Instagram. This would probably be the most controversial decision that Meta would have to make, and it will also have to face consequences no matter what decision it adopts.
Meta will make this decision later this month a source with knowledge of the matter told the UK publication. Trump’s Facebook was suspended in January 2021 after its moderation team ruled that he had used his account to incite violence when some of his supporters stormed the US Capitol.
A team led by the then-vice president for global affairs and communications, Nick Clegg, ruled that Trump’s “actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available.”
Trump’s fate, just as he ramps up a 2024 White House bid, will be the biggest test of authority yet faced by Meta’s president of global affairs Nick Clegg. The former UK deputy prime minister is to oversee the decision after he took on an expanded role in February, leading the company on policy matters. Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg, who has previously made the final decision on moderation matters, is now focused on product and his emerging metaverse vision — but could yet step in as chief executive, chair, and controlling shareholder.
The company has set up a working group to focus on the matter, according to people with knowledge of its operations. The group includes staffers from the public policy and communications teams, as well as from the content policy team headed by Monika Bickert and the safety and integrity teams led by Guy Rosen.
Meta had previously pledged to announce whether Trump’s suspension would be lifted on January 7, 2023, but is now likely to delay that decision to later in the month, the FT reported.
Twitter’s new owner and chief executive Elon Musk unbanned Trump in November, citing the will of “the people” – but the former president is yet to return to the platform.
The former president has instead carried on posting on Truth Social, the right-wing social media platform he founded in October 2021 after Meta and Twitter upheld their suspensions.
The former US president was suspended “indefinitely” the day after the attack on the US Capitol building in Washington, for what Zuckerberg described as his decision “to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government condone not condemn”.
That decision was upheld by Meta’s oversight board, a Supreme Court-style body made up of academics and experts that assesses moderation decisions and that Clegg was instrumental in setting up. However, the board took issue with the lifetime ban, ordering Meta to revisit its decision within two years.
Meta has said it would consult experts and undo its strongest rebuke of a global leader. If lifted, there would be a “strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr. Trump commits further violations in the future”, the company said in June, citing the permanent removal of his pages and accounts as the harshest potential punishment.
Meta declined to comment further on its process for deciding whether Trump is to remain barred, and which experts it has been consulting. Some academics argue that Trump’s rhetoric remains a risk to public safety. Last month, a study by left-leaning advocacy group Accountable Tech suggested that 350 posts from Trump’s account on Truth Social would violate Facebook’s policy rules.