Donald Trump allowed back on Facebook, Instagram: Reaction following Meta's decision to reinstate

Former president Donald Trump was suspended from Facebook and Instagram for two years after the company that owns those sites, Meta, found he used those platforms to incite violence at the Capitol on January 6th.  

A review board weighed whether the risk Trump poses has receded, and decided to let him back online – but with some new guardrails, Meta says. 

Meta said in a statement it expects to face criticism over its decision.

"Reasonable people will disagree over whether it is the right decision. But a decision had to be made, so we have tried to make it as best we can," the company said. 

Plenty of people FOX 35 News talked with said they were all for the decision.

"He should never have been blocked in the first place," Jeremy Robbins told us. "Everybody’s got a right. Freedom of Speech." 

Another woman, who asked not to be identified, also brought up the freedom of speech.

"Let’s all be able to exercise our rights," she said. "I can have my Facebook, you can have your Facebook, share your opinions, why can’t he have his?"

That’s what Meta decided too.  

The company said in a statement Wednesday, 

"The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad, and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box." 

Digital Consulting Expert Dedrick Boyd says Meta will have a fine line to walk.  

"As a public company that’s the leader as far as social media goes, it’s a little bit of threading the needle to make sure you’re not coming across as really hampering and limiting someone, but also keeping that ability to say what they want to say and to speak to their followers." 

Meta says the people it’s allowing back online after "suspensions related to civil unrest" will have specific rules governing their new accounts. 

For instance, if Trump continues posting content that violates Facebook or Instagram’s rules, his post will be removed, and he could face another two-year suspension.  

If he posts anything delegitimizing an upcoming election or promotes the QAnon conspiracy theory, Meta will limit the distribution of those posts or restrict access to certain advertising tools. 

And if he violates Meta’s Community Standards, the company may deem that the post doesn’t intend to incite harm, but that it should be limited in its reach. 

"They are a private company, and if you violate whatever terms of service they deem to draw up, you can be held liable," explained Boyd. 

There are limitations to the First Amendment. You can’t threaten others, you can’t incite someone to break the law, and you can’t conspire to commit a criminal act. Questions over whether the former president was crossing the line with that law pushed Meta to suspend Trump’s account on January 7, 2021. 

"They can do anything they want, obviously, they have the developers and coders," Boyd said of Meta. "But from a business model standpoint, the model is, if somebody says something that gets lots of likes and follows, they’re going to push it; they’re going to amplify that."

Boyd says one of the challenges Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter create is they create echo chambers.

Their algorithms tend to only show people what they already think and agree with.

He says eventually, laws are going to have to change to fix that. 

"We need to make sure that we’re creating true spaces where people can communicate, and we can have differences of opinion, we can agree to disagree, and can come to our own conclusions without denigrating people."

Trump was allowed back onto Twitter this past November. Meta says his return to Facebook and Instagram will happen sometime in the next few weeks.