Top Democrats slammed Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for its decision to let former President Donald Trump back on the platform in the name of free speech.
Meta announced last Wednesday it would end Trump’s suspension from Facebook and Instagram, saying the penalty imposed after January 6 riot was “an extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances,” and pledged to enforce “certain guardrails” on Trump in the future.
“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. As a general rule, we don’t want to get in the way of open, public and democratic debate on Meta’s platforms — especially in the context of elections in democratic societies like the United States,” the company stated in the announcement.
The company did not say when Trump would be allowed to post on its platforms but said it was confident the “risk” he posed to public safety had passed. Twitter, which also suspended Trump in the wake of the Capitol riot, also recently reinstated Trump, although the former president has so far chosen to communicate through his own platform, Truth Social.
“We are bringing Mr. Trump back in the coming weeks with certain guardrails, applicable to any public figures suspended for certain violations during times of civil unrest,” a statement from Meta read. “The penalties and potential restrictions we’ve put in place are a deterrent.”
The company added that it was important for the public to see content from people like Trump, even if it was “distasteful or factually wrong.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent a letter to Meta’s President of Global Affairs, Nicholas Clegg, criticizing the company’s decision to let Trump back on the platform.
“Based on Meta’s previous statements on standards for allowing Trump back on the platform, his account should not have been reinstated. 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 will bring similar conspiratorial rhetoric back to Facebook, too,” the two wrote. “How Facebook could reinstate his account, given all the additional content on Truth Social that would likely have resulted in a brand-new suspension if it were on your platform, is inexplicable.”
“[W]e believe that part of Meta’s commitment to election integrity should be ensuring that those who maintain the unfounded, dangerous narrative of the 2020 election are not allowed or encouraged to spread the lie in any form,” they added. “It is not clear in this decision where Meta will draw the line ‘between content that is harmful and should be removed, and content that, however distasteful or inaccurate, is part of the rough and tumble of life in a free society” and we would greatly appreciate further clarity on this matter.’”