Angelo Carusone: Meta executives are plotting Trump's Facebook return at the same time that Trump is becoming “the chief advocate for the violent QAnon conspiracy theory”

Earlier today, it was reported that Nick Clegg of parent company Meta Platforms said at an exclusive Semafor event that Facebook could lift Donald Trump’s suspension in January 2023.

In response to Clegg’s reported comments, Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, issued the following statement.

Nick Clegg confirmed what we have known and warned about all along: Facebook has every intention of restoring Donald Trump’s account. This was evident when, instead of permanently banning Donald Trump in 2021, the company simply extended his suspension until the end of 2022 and indicated that his account would be restored automatically unless there was a demonstration of real-world harms.

It’s especially incredible that Clegg chose to double down on Facebook’s intention of restoring Trump’s account at the same time that Donald Trump fully embraces and becomes the chief advocate for the violent QAnon conspiracy theory movement.

Clegg could have easily noted that Trump’s active promotion of QAnon and continued attempts to overturn the 2020 election would not only be a violation of Facebook’s policies but is certainly an indicator of real-world harms that make it unlikely the platform will restore his account. Instead, he indicated that, as when Trump was active on the platform, Facebook remains unwilling to apply or enforce its own rules against Trump.

Facebook was all too happy to let Trump and his allies distort the 2016 election with an avalanche of unchecked disinformation - and in 2020, Facebook not only actively enabled Trump’s election lies but quite literally helped operationalize an attack on democracy. And now they are about to do it all over again in 2024.

The message to Meta’s advertisers, stakeholders, and employees is clear: If you thought Facebook was a toxic platform before, get ready — it's about to get a lot worse.

A Media Matters study showed that roughly a quarter of Trump’s posts on Facebook in 2020 contained COVID-19 misinformation, election lies, or extreme rhetoric about his critics. An additional study in May of 2021 based on Trump’s pattern of posting on Facebook in 2020 showed that if he hadn’t been suspended, we estimate that he likely would have posted misinformation and/or extreme rhetoric over 463 times in the 119 days that followed.

Right-wing personalities who post sensational and misleading content continue to earn high engagement on Facebook, despite President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg’s March 2021 comments that “Facebook’s systems are not designed to reward provocative content."

Media Matters’ BanTrumpNow ad campaign aims to ensure that social media platforms hold Trump accountable for violating their terms of service to push lies, bigotry, and conspiracy theories at scale. Learn more: