Facebook announced on Friday that former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts could be restored in January 2023.
At that point, the social media company will reassess whether the public safety risk of letting Trump back into his service has decreased.
“We will assess external factors, including cases of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other signs of civil unrest,” the company said in a blog post. “If we find that there is still a serious public safety risk, we will extend the restriction for a period of time and continue reassessing until that risk has subsided.”
If Trump is allowed to get back on duty, there will be a rigorous series of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Trump continues to violate the company’s content moderation rules, Facebook said.
This two-year ban will prevent Trump from using Facebook or Instagram to post to his followers until after the 2022 US midterm elections.
Facebook blocked Trump’s accounts after the January 6 uprising in the U.S. Capitol. The decision was Facebook’s most aggressive act against Trump during his four-year tenure.
Facebook referred the ban to its board of directors a few weeks later, saying that given the importance of the suspension, “we believe it is important that the board review it and make an independent judgment on whether it should be upheld.”
Facebook’s independent oversight body decided in May to uphold the company’s decision to suspend Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. However, in its decision, the board noted that Facebook needs to reassess how it is moderating speech from political leaders, clearly outlining these rules for the public, and determining how long these users can be banned.
The company said it had determined that a two-year suspension was the reasonable length to provide a safe period after the acts of the Jan. 6 insurrection and it was a sufficient suspension to deter Trump and others from committing the violations repeat in the future.
In a statement from his office, Trump criticized Facebook’s decision, calling it an insult to his voters and falsely claiming that the 2020 presidential election had been rigged.
“You shouldn’t get away with this censorship and silence, and ultimately we will win,” Trump said in the statement. “Our country can no longer bear this abuse!”