Facebook Will Reinstate Donald Trump but Adds New Censorship Rules

(AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

Meta has decided to allow President Donald Trump back on Facebook and Instagram after an “unprecedented” two-year suspension, but don’t get too excited about a victory for free speech. There are already all kinds of provisos for how Facebook can censor Trump as soon as he posts something the platform moderators dislike, and Facebook is rolling out “updated protocol” or increased censorship measures for content that violates platform rules or simply “contributes” to “risk.” Because Facebook is never biased when it comes to assessing “risk.”


Meta issued a press release on Jan. 25 from Meta Global Affairs President Nick Clegg with three key points:

  • ”We will be ending the suspension of Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks.
  • We’ve put new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.
  • The public should be able to hear what politicians are saying so they can make informed choices.”

Clegg did a lot of self-justification and verbose rambling in the press release. For instance, he claimed that social media “is rooted in the belief that open debate and the free flow of ideas are important values, especially at a time when they are under threat in many places around the world,” even though Facebook is infamous for its biased censorship.

Clegg also pontificated, “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.” Ironic, considering that we know Facebook interfered in both the 2020 and 2022 elections — in fact, a Media Research Center poll from November 2020 found that Big Tech censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal helped sway the election for Joe Biden.

Related: Meta to Allow Trump Back on Facebook

Meta has a “high bar” for what constitutes “clear risk of real world harm,” Clegg droned. “Two years ago, we took action in what were extreme and highly unusual circumstances. We indefinitely suspended then-US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. We then referred that decision to the Oversight Board.”


Actually, Trump explicitly called for peace on Jan. 6. He never endorsed violence. Indeed, in the case of Twitter, the Twitter Files recently revealed that Twitter had to twist Trump’s words to come up with any justification for censoring the president. Was the situation similar for Facebook?

Ultimately, without trying to be too pessimistic, the reinstatement of Trump is hardly a great victory for free speech. There are new, increased censorship options for accounts that don’t even violate Facebook rules. “Our updated protocol also addresses content that does not violate our Community Standards but that contributes to the sort of risk that materialized on January 6, such as content that delegitimizes an upcoming election or is related to QAnon,” Clegg writes. Because, as we know, the First Amendment right to free speech didn’t include criticizing government or elections (except when it’s Democrats calling Republicans illegitimate). “We may limit the distribution of such posts, and for repeated instances, may temporarily restrict access to our advertising tools.”

Furthermore, Trump may not remain on Facebook long after his “unprecedented length of time” being suspended. Clegg said that Trump’s posts might be limited in distribution or have reshare buttons removed.

”Like any other Facebook or Instagram user, Mr. Trump is subject to our Community Standards. In light of his violations, he now also faces heightened penalties for repeat offenses — penalties which will apply to other public figures whose accounts are reinstated from suspensions related to civil unrest under our updated protocol. 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.”


Clegg concluded by acknowledging that Meta expects that any decisions about Trump’s presence on Facebook and Instagram will be “fiercely criticized” by one side or the other. He claimed a desire for transparent guidelines. The ultimate conclusion to be drawn is this: Facebook has no apology for suspending a sitting president after no violation of its rules, and it intends to continue its biased censorship into the future.


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