Trump breaks social media silence with reassuring message after two years

AFP
March 18, 2023

In his first social media message, former president says, 'Sorry to keep you waiting -- complicated business'

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Donald Trump photographed on November 15, 2019 during his presidency as he delivered remarks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, DC. AFP/File

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump, the former President of the United States, made his initial postings on his Facebook and YouTube accounts on Friday, following his reinstatement to the platforms, which occurred more than two years after he was banned in connection with the US Capitol insurrection.

"I’M BACK," Trump said, alongside a 12-second video clip that appeared to show him giving his victory speech after winning the 2016 election, as he exclaimed: "Sorry to keep you waiting -- complicated business."

The 76-year-old Republican leader -- who is running for president again -- has been unable to post any content for his 34 million Facebook followers and 2.6 million YouTube subscribers.

The platforms benched Trump days after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, when a mob of his supporters seeking to halt the certification of his election defeat to Joe Biden stormed the US Capitol in Washington.

He was sanctioned for posting content that the platforms said incited unrest, with YouTube announcing his reinstatement on Friday, two months after Facebook said it was unlocking his account.

The former reality TV star had spent weeks falsely claiming that the presidential election was stolen from him, and he was subsequently impeached for inciting the riot.

Staying off Twitter?

"Starting today, the Donald J. Trump channel is no longer restricted and can upload new content," YouTube said in a statement.

"We carefully evaluated the continued risk of real-world violence, while balancing the chance for voters to hear equally from major national candidates in the run up to an election."

Social networking giant Meta announced in January it was reinstating Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram with "new guardrails."

His Twitter account, which has 87 million followers, was also blocked after the riot, leaving him to communicate through Truth Social, where he has fewer than five million followers.

New Twitter owner Elon Musk reinstated Trump last November, days after he announced a fresh White House run, but he has yet to post.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed more than 400 legal actions against Trump, applauded Meta’s decision.

"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," executive director Anthony Romero said in a statement.

"Indeed, some of Trump’s most offensive social media posts ended up being critical evidence in lawsuits filed against him and his administration."

But advocacy groups such as Media Matters for America vehemently oppose allowing Trump to exploit the social networking reach of the Big Tech giants.

Trump’s shock victory in 2016 was credited in part to his leverage of social media and his enormous digital reach.

A US congressional committee recommended in December that he be prosecuted for his role in the US Capitol assault.



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