Democrats are begging Meta, the parent company of Facebook, not to rescind its ban on former President Donald Trump.
What is the background?
One day after the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Trump had been suspended “indefinitely” from Facebook and Instagram.
In a Facebook post explaining the decision, Zuckerberg accused Trump of having used “our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”
A Meta oversight board later upheld Trump’s ban, extending it for two years from the original suspension. The earliest date it can be overturned is Jan. 7, 2023.
What are the Democrats saying?
The group of Democrats — Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.), André Carson (Ind.), and Kathy Castor (Fla.) — claimed the only way Meta can maintain credibility is to comply with their demand to keep Trump banned.
“For Meta to credibly maintain a legitimate election integrity policy, it is essential that your company maintain its platform ban on former president Trump,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta.
With the expiration of Trump’s initial ban coming next month, the Democrats expressed fear that Trump could be allowed back on Facebook. But he shouldn’t be, they argued, because of his rhetoric, which the Democrats oppose.
“Two years later, we can see unequivocally that Trump is still spreading the Big Lie and thus undermining our democracy,” they claimed. “Indeed, he has expressed support for pardoning people involved in the January 6th attack on police, should he ever get the chance.”
To support their claims, the Democrats pointed to Trump’s posts on his own social network, Truth Social. However, the Democrats did not directly cite those posts, but rather referred to a Rolling Stone story. They also claimed he should remain banned from Facebook because he “has also incited violence on Truth Social in many instances.”
The Democrats, however, did not cite any instance of actual violence instigated by Trump.
How did Meta respond?
In September, Clegg vowed to seriously consider the situation by Jan. 7 and suggested it could result in Trump’s accounts being reinstated.
“We’ve been very open. That temporary suspension is a two-year suspension, through early January of next year,” Clegg said. “We’ll look at all the signals we should do, about what we think may or may not affect the risks of real world harm.”