Brandon Doerrer
Jan 29, 2023

Advocacy groups decry Meta Trump reinstatement

Technology policy and media-monitoring organizations warn that Trump’s return to Meta platforms will lead to a surge of misinformation and discrimination against marginalized communities.

Advocacy groups decry Meta Trump reinstatement

Media organizations and activist groups for marginalized communities have spoken out against Meta’s decision to end suspensions of former President Donald Trump’s Instagram and Facebook accounts. They say his re-platforming on social media will lead to more misinformation and discrimination against marginalized communities.

Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, announced the company’s decision to allow Trump’s return in a blog post on Wednesday. Clegg wrote that Trump will be allowed onto both platforms in the coming weeks. 

Trump has been suspended from both sites since 2021, following the January 6 Capitol attack. Due to previous violations, Trump would be suspended between one month and two years for posts that violate Meta’s community standards “depending on the severity of the violation,” Clegg said. The former president will also be suspended for the same periods of time if he distributes content that “contributes to the sort of risk that materialized on January 6, such as content that delegitimizes an upcoming election or is related to QAnon.”

Elon Musk reinstated Trump’s Twitter account in November, but Trump has not tweeted since January 2021. On Sunday, Rolling Stone reported that Trump is plotting a Twitter comeback and plans to drop an exclusivity deal with his own platform, Truth Social, which launched in February 2022.

Trump is obligated to wait six hours before reposting non-political content on other social media platforms that he first posted on Truth Social, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. That obligation is set to expire in June.

Trump’s reinstatement on Instagram and Facebook will allow him to run political ads, which he’s relied on for fundraising in previous election cycles.

Meta laid off more than 11,000 employees last November. It reported a profit drop of 52% from the prior year in Q3; it is set to report Q4 earnings on February 1.

Here’s what activist groups are saying about Trump’s potential return to Facebook and Instagram.

GLAAD

GLAAD is anorganization that accelerates acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community through entertainment, news and digital media. It’s a member of Change the Terms, a collection of civil rights, technology policy and consumer protection groups that submitted a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week urging the company to ban Trump permanently.

“At a time when LGBTQ people report being bullied and harassed online more than any marginalized group, and when misinformation about our lives is leading to anti-LGBTQ legislation, relentless harassment, and physical violence, Meta should prioritize creating safer and truthful environments,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO, in a statement. “Donald Trump’s longstanding history of using social media platforms to amplify lies and misinformation and incite hate and violence makes his return to Facebook and Instagram dangerous for every single American.”

In July, GLAAD gave both Instagram and Facebook failing grades in its Social Media Safety Index, a report that evaluates how well social media platforms uphold their policy commitments to protect LGBTQIA+ users.

UltraViolet

A fellow Change the Terms member, UltraViolet is a national advocacy group focused on fighting sexism and ensuring women are accurately represented across politics, media and pop culture.

“By allowing Trump back onto Meta platforms, Facebook and Instagram, Meta has given the former president a renewed platform to radicalize his followers and spread gendered and racialized disinformation encouraging violence,” said Bridget Todd, director of communications, in a statement. “Facebook has chosen Donald Trump and the traffic he brings to the platform over the lives and wellbeing of its users and the American people.” 

“It is deeply disappointing that Meta chose to ignore Trump’s near daily Truth Social posts confirming the ongoing dangers he poses to our country.”

Global Project Against Hate and Extremism

GPAHE is a nonprofit focused on calling out lax efforts to stop transnational hate and far-right extremism movements, particularly those that originate in the U.S. It is also a member of Change the Terms.

“By creating a global “public figures in times of civil unrest and violence” policy, a very narrow policy that doesn’t define civil unrest and is practically unenforceable, Facebook has given themselves permission to let a man who encouraged a violent coup to dominate on its platform,” said Wendy Via, cofounder and CEO. “And they’ve given themselves miles of leeway to allow harmful content from the politically powerful to continue to thrive. Far-right and authoritarian leaders everywhere are assured that it's business as usual at Facebook.”

Accountable Tech

Change the Terms’ Accountable Tech is an organization with a mission to hold tech giants accountable with campaigns that seek to ban surveillance advertising, crack down on monopolies and ensure election safeguards on social media.

“Meta banned Trump because he clearly and repeatedly violated their safety standards, spread misinformation that put the lives of law enforcement and American democracy at risk, and refused to veer from his violent and dangerous course,” said Nicole Gill, cofounder and executive director. “Since being banned from Facebook, Trump has repeatedly used Truth Social to fuel violence, spread election lies and promote domestic terrorist organizations like QAnon. Reinstating his accounts undoubtedly hands him a megaphone to amplify the worst of his views which, as we have already seen, translates to real world harm."

American Civil Liberties Union

The ACLU, a nonprofit focused on defending individual constitutional rights across party lines, supported Meta’s decision.

“This is the right call,” said Anthony Romero, executive director, in a statement. “Like it or not, President Trump is one of the country’s leading political figures and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech. Indeed, some of Trump’s most offensive social media posts ended up being critical evidence in lawsuits filed against him and his administration. And we should know — we filed over 400 legal actions against him.

“The biggest social media companies are central actors when it comes to our collective ability to speak — and hear the speech of others — online. They should err on the side of allowing a wide range of political speech, even when it offends.

“In a healthier information ecosystem, the decisions of a single company would not carry such immense political significance, and we hope that new platforms will emerge to challenge the hegemony of the social media giants. In the meantime, we will continue to press the tech giants to be fair and impartial stewards of our political discourse.”

 

 

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