Meta announced this week that it will be reinstating former President Donald Trump on Facebook and Instagram following his recent reinstatement on Twitter, which also banned Trump for his dangerous rhetoric after the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. Meta and Twitter’s decisions will mean that the disgraced ex-president will soon have access to all the social media giants, giving him a platform to spread misinformation to billions of global users — but for Trump’s right-wing media allies, these concessions still don’t go far enough.
Meta announced on January 25 that it believes the threat to public safety posed by Trump has “sufficiently receded” to allow him back on its platforms “in the coming weeks.” Additionally, the company put an updated protocol in place to restrict accounts of Trump or other public figures who incite violence during civil unrest. However, following Trump’s announcement that he would be running for president again in 2024, Meta reportedly sent a memo saying it would not be fact-checking the candidate even as he was espousing QAnon conspiracy theories on his own platform, Truth Social.
The decision to reinstate Trump comes as Meta is still dealing with election misinformation more than two years after his suspension. A recent Media Matters study found that right-leaning Facebook pages shared 65,500 election-related posts that earned over 60 million interactions in 2022, often spreading misinformation. Reinstating Trump will only further this problem on the platform, as he has continued to spout misinformation about elections on Truth Social and still maintains a large reach on Facebook that will continue to grow as his campaign pumps money into Facebook ads. As Media Matters President Angelo Carusone pointed out:
Trump’s Truth Social account has shown us exactly how he’d use Facebook if let back on the platform. He has promoted what Facebook describes as a ‘militarized’ movement hundreds of times, and in the week after the midterm elections, nearly half (48%) of Trump's posts on Truth Social amplified QAnon-promoting accounts or pushed election misinformation.
Make no mistake — by allowing Donald Trump back on its platforms, Meta is refueling Trump’s misinformation and extremism engine.
Following the announcement, Fox News got an exclusive interview with Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, who claimed, “We're not a political entity. We don't try and make decisions that help or hinder one side or the other.” Yet despite this huge boon to online conservatism by Trump's reinstatement to major platforms, right-wing personalities are still complaining that social media companies like Meta have discriminated against Trump and other conservatives. Right-wing media have continued to attack the company for supposedly conspiring with Democrats and the “deep state” to suppress free speech, and they insist that reinstating Trump’s account is “overdue” because he “did nothing wrong.”
Here are some examples of how right-wing media responded to Meta’s announcement that it would be reinstating Trump’s account:
- On the January 25 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, Fox contributor Mollie Hemingway condemned Meta despite Trump’s reinstatement, stating, “Facebook in general has done so much to attack freedom of speech, freedom of expression, the freedom of free people to debate.” Hemingway argued that “finally, two years later, after meddling in election after election, now they are finally saying, ‘Oh well, he can come back now.’ This isn't even coming close to making right what he did to the country and what they continue to do.”
- Former Trump appointee and right-wing media commentator Monica Crowley agreed with Hemingway, stating, “Frankly, the word ‘deplatforming’ is actually just a euphemism for totalitarian control. These people in Big Tech are our tech overlords. They do control the modern public square. And they do have all of the power to not just silence somebody, but to crush them, to basically erase them from the face of the Earth. That is the kind of power that they now have, to the point that they could actually suspend and destroy a sitting president, as Mollie said.” Crowley also complained about “the hundreds of millions of dollars that Mark Zuckerberg and his team poured into swing states and swing districts in order to influence the election and deny Donald Trump reelection. All of this is of a piece.”
- An article published on The Gateway Pundit on January 25 sided with Trump, suggesting that his suspension after January 6, 2021, “was probably preplanned” and asserting, “Never again should a Big Tech entity working with bad actors in the corrupt Deep State aligned with the corrupt Democrat Party be allowed to deplatform a sitting President who did nothing wrong.”
- Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton tweeted that though Meta has allowed Trump back on its platforms, “he will face abusive restrictions on his speech obviously designed to help Left, Democrats and Joe Biden in the run-up to the presidential election. Biden admin involved in this censorship?”
- On the January 25 edition of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox contributor Josh Kraushaar suggested that Meta’s move to reinstate Trump “was an obvious decision, it was almost an overdue decision to not pick sides in the 2024 presidential campaign.”
- On January 26, conservative commentator Larry Elder tweeted:
- On the January 26 edition of The Benny Show, host Benny Johnson also asserted that Meta made the wrong decision in banning Trump two years ago because he “did not foment any type of — you can go back and look at the actual post. Donald Trump says don't riot, be peaceful, don't attack police, Donald Trump — none of this stuff. It was all — this was all manufactured.” Johnson also called the reinstatement a “very, very good thing.”
- Right-wing Facebook users also pushed conspiratorial narratives, claiming Facebook had reinstated Trump only after it succeeded in getting Biden elected and even calling for Trump to retaliate: