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Could Donald Trump Return to Facebook?

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, Arizona. By Gage Skidmore.
Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, Arizona.

If you are missing former President Donald Trump on Facebook, or if you are rooting for him to be permanently banned, you will find out later this month about his fate.

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Meta, the parent corporation of the social network, is primed to decide in the next four weeks.

Trump has been banned from Facebook and Instagram after the January 6, 2021, insurrection for what Meta called incitement of violence before the melee was instigated by Trump supporters.

Facebook ‘Star Chamber’ Will Decide Trump’s Future

The key member of the company to rule on Trump’s fate will be Meta’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, who was once the United Kingdom’s deputy prime minister. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to back Clegg’s decision and stay out of the fray or Zuckerberg could get personally involved should there be indecision on Clegg’s part.

Clegg also has an oversight committee underneath him that will decide on the outcome in what is expected to be a up or down vote by its members on Trump’s future on the Meta platforms.

Will He Stay on Truth Social?

Trump used Facebook and to a lesser extent Instagram to stoke his successful run in 2016. Trump has been reinstated on Twitter but has not tweeted since new owner Elon Musk removed his Twitter shackles. Trump has his own social network, a copycat of Twitter called Truth Social, and the former president has maintained that he will stay loyal and communicate from that platform only.

Agree or Disagree – Depends on Your Party

Republicans have decried what they believe is censorship of Conservatives by Meta, while Democrats think that Trump has violated norms of democracy with inflamed rhetoric on social networks.

One party will be overjoyed, and one will be disappointed by the outcome of the Meta decision, so Clegg and his underlings are on the hot seat. Should Donald Trump be banned by Meta, it could mean another trip to Capitol Hill for Zuckerberg to answer charges of a liberal bias toward Conservatives.

Would Advertisers Boycott Meta?

Should Donald Trump be re-instated, Facebook and Instagram could face some advertisers to reduce or cease their ad buys. This could be one deciding factor that would keep Trump banned. Trump would likely be on a short leash if he were allowed back on Facebook and Instagram with quick sanctions placed on the former president if he violates terms of service.

Legacy Media Still Watches Truth Social Closely

Trump would obviously welcome reinstatement, but he may not even go back to Facebook and Instagram. While Truth Social has not been a massive hit, it is still monitored by the media, so Trump gets coverage whenever he says something that is provocative, newsworthy or controversial.

Oversight Board Weighing Public Safety

Clegg’s oversight board has said that the main reason of the ban has been Trump’s alleged risk to public safety and if they think that danger has mitigated, they could allow him back on Meta’s social networks. Clegg said in a conference last year that Facebook “will talk to experts, weigh the risk of real world harm, and act proportionally.”

Trump’s Account on Facebook Can Still Be Viewed

You can still see Trump’s account on Facebook. He has 34 million followers. Trump has a note on the banner headline photo to “Text 88022 to Make American Great Again.” His last post on Facebook was on January 6, 2021, when he said, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”

Extolling Pence to Act

That day, Trump asked for Vice President to have the “extreme courage” to not certify the 2020 election results and “send them back to the states.” On this Facebook post, the platform added two sentences of a context disclaimer that said mail and in-person voting have a “long history of trustworthiness” and that voter fraud is “extremely rare.”

Just Continue to Fact Check Trump  

It would seem then that Facebook could allow Trump back on and choose to fact-check the president in this manner if they believe he is spreading misinformation, which is their right. For this reason, Trump may not choose to post on Facebook even if he is re-instated.

On the other hand, Facebook is an obvious place to communicate directly with his supporters and to run advertisements to amplify messages, especially since Trump is running again for president.

We will keep an eye on these developments. It will be interesting to see if Trump returns to Facebook or if he stays on Truth Social where he only has four million followers. Facebook could always delay the decision again, but it appears Meta believes it is time for a social media verdict on Donald Trump. With all of the former president’s more serious legal problems, he may care less about this judgment.

Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.