Irresponsible Greed Drives Facebook to Restore Trump’s Account

Statement of Yosef Getachew, Common Cause Media and Democracy Program Directo

Facebook has once again missed the opportunity to be the adult in the room when it comes to checking the clear and present danger that Donald Trump poses to the nation on social media. Instead, the company and its founder Mark Zuckerberg decided to try to plunge headlong into a race to the bottom with Elon Musk and Twitter, irrespective of the threat to public safety and national security.

Donald Trump continues to pose a very real threat to public safety and to our democracy, but Facebook has once again chosen corporate profit over its responsibility to the very people that enrich the platform and its founder. Trump’s lies and provocations on social media have already inspired an insurrection that threatened to topple our system of government and one that left dead and scores of seriously injured in its wake. The former president’s baseless lies, and refusal to admit he lost a free and fair 2020 presidential election, have continued to divide our nation and provoke acts of violence.

The company has been publicly wringing its hands and promising to do better ever since it was first revealed that Russia intelligence services had utilized the platform to help elect Donald Trump in 2016. But since then Facebook has taken half-measures at best, failing to consistently enforce its existing civic integrity policies and allowing bad actors to exploit loopholes to spread disinformation unchecked. The guardrails Facebook proposes to place on the former president’s reinstated account continue this trend of half-hearted enforcement.

Facebook’s cowardly and profit-driven decision to allow Donald Trump’s return to the platform shows again that social media platforms are far from ready to be entrusted to enact meaningful content moderation policies, protect its users against harmful content, and safeguard against broader threats to our democracy and public safety.

Now is the time for lawmakers and regulators to enact substantive policies to regulate social media business models, which today do little more than incentivize and proliferate the spread of harmful content online.  Our nation deserves nothing less.