Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram pages appeared to have gone back online on June 2, 2021, even as a representative for Facebook insisted that Trump’s indefinite suspension from the platform remained in force.
Trump was indefinitely or permanently suspended from virtually all major social media platforms in January 2021 for inciting a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 with a disinformation campaign claiming that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
In May 2021, a Facebook oversight board reviewed Trump’s ban and punted the decision about whether to maintain it back to Facebook. But in the meantime, Trump’s ban had remained in place.
But in early June 2021, journalists posted that Trump’s pages on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram appeared to be live again, showing his last posts were dated Jan. 6. This led to a number of posts and stories incorrectly reporting Trump was back on the platforms.
“BREAKING NEWS: Donald Trump is *BACK* on Two Major Social Media Platforms — Facebook and Instagram,” Becker News reported, for example.
Trump is not back on Facebook and Instagram, however. His pages on those platforms are still visible, but they are frozen. He is unable to post on them, although other people are still able to post comments on his old posts.
“Nothing about the status of President Trump’s presence on our platform has changed. He remains indefinitely suspended,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone wrote on Twitter.
No. Nothing about the status of President Trump’s presence on our platform has changed. He remains indefinitely suspended.
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) June 2, 2021
Evelyn Douek, a Harvard Law lecturer who researches online speech and regulation, tweeted that the fact that Trump’s pages are visible isn’t new. They have always been visible — Trump simply can’t post.
No, it’s not news that Trump’s accounts are still visible on Facebook and Instagram. They always were—he just can’t post. The Board talked about this in its decision as one of the reasons this was an unusual decision by Facebook.
— evelyn douek (@evelyndouek) June 2, 2021
Four people died on the day of the attack on the Capitol, which was preceded and followed by incendiary comments made by Trump. Three police officers involved in defending the Capitol lost their lives in the days following the attack, while roughly 140 officers were injured, some seriously.