The previous president has used Twitter to spread misinformation and bigotry, especially Islamophobia for years.
Former US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will be restored, parent company Meta announced on Wednesday, just over two years after he was suspended.
According to Meta, Trump will soon regain access to his accounts, which together had hundreds of millions of followers and were the most followed on Facebook before he was banned.
Trump’s account on Twitter, which had been suspended since January 2021, was restored in November.
On January 7, 2021, the day after hundreds of people stormed the Capitol building in his honour, Meta suspended Trump from its platforms because it believed at the time that his posts would lead to further violence.
That same week, Trump’s accounts on other well-known social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube were also deleted.
However, Meta, which critics claim censors Trump and other conservative voices, announced on Wednesday that it had decided to lift the restrictions after determining that the risk to the public’s safety had “sufficiently receded” since January 2021.
The business continued by saying it would install guardrails to “deter repeat offences” going forward.
Meta has been at the centre of a discussion about online free speech and debates on who should have the authority to decide what can be posted and what needs to be taken down.
Trump’s accounts being suspended served as a stark illustration of the power of social media sites and whether they have too much control and influence over online public discourse.
However, whether Trump, who will run for president once more in 2024, will resume his social media activity on Facebook and Instagram is unknown. He established his own social media platform called Truth Social, in which he has financial interest and is required to post content exclusively for six hours before sharing it elsewhere, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
If the messages are intended to spread political messaging, raise money, or promote voter turnout initiatives, Trump can post to any online platform right away.
Since being reactivated by Twitter in November, Trump has not made a single tweet, instead being loyal to his own platform Truth Social.
However, with his effective return to social media now in full swing, concerns have emerged over how he would use the platforms. This is especially true for Muslims who faced years of misinformation and bigotry due to Islamophobic remarks by Trump.
Trump’s online Islamophobia and hatred
A few years prior to declaring his presidential candidacy, Trump used Twitter to voice his support for the New York Police Department’s illegal surveillance programme against the Muslim community in the city.
“NYC’s top cop acted wisely and legally to monitor activities of some in the Muslim community. Vigilance keeps us safe,” Trump tweeted in 2012.
Trump began his presidential campaign in 2015 by referring to illegal immigrants from Mexico as “rapists,” and he persisted in inciting hatred and racism for the first few weeks of his campaign.
Trump quickly shifted his anti-immigrant animus to target Muslims at a time when the Islamic State group was committing horrifying acts of violence in Iraq and Syria and launching attacks throughout the Middle East and Europe.
He made the false claim that New Jersey’s Muslim community had celebrated the 9/11 attacks. In November 2015, he tweeted “Credible Source on 9-11 Muslim Celebrations: FBI” along with a hyperlink to a false news story.
Late in 2015, a parliamentary petition in Britain garnered the support of hundreds of thousands of citizens calling on the government to refuse Trump entry due to his infamous “Muslim ban” proposal. The future US president retaliated against the UK by saying that it had a “Muslim problem.”
“The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem. Everybody is wise to what is happening, very sad! Be honest,” he wrote on Twitter
Later that day, Trump praised the “powerful writing” of far-right British columnist Katie Hopkins regarding “the UK’s Muslim problems” in a tribute.
Following the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub by militant Omar Mateen, 29, Trump boasted of receiving praise for his anti-Muslim plans.
In June of 2016, he wrote: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”
He also reaffirmed his demand for an outright ban on Muslims entering the country.
“What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough.”
Trump reduced the overt Islamophobia in the early months of his presidency, at least on Twitter. Nevertheless, on one day in November 2017, he shared three tweets from a far-right British activist that claimed to document violent Muslim acts in Europe.
Three of the videos, one from Egypt, one from Syria, and one from the Netherlands, did not feature any Muslims.
When questioned at the time about the veracity of the posts, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders responded, “Whether it is a real video, the threat is real.
Trump had been stoking fears about a “migrant caravan” coming from Central America to the US southern border in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.
He stated without supporting evidence that “unknown Middle Easterners” are among the migrants in October.
“Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in,” he wrote. “I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy [sic]. Must change laws!”
At the time, civil rights organisations denounced the untrue statement.
On September 13, 2019, Trump retweeted a post accusing congresswoman Ilhan Omar of partying on the anniversary of the attacks, revisiting his false 2015 claims that Muslims were celebrating 9/11 and escalating his anti-Islamic remarks against Omar.
“GET THIS WOMAN OUT OF OFFICE. Ilhan Omar partied on the anniversary of 9/11,” the tweet said.
A clip of Omar dancing in a crowd to a song by the American pop singer Lizzo was displayed. However, the footage was from a Congressional Black Caucus event hosted two days after the 9/11 anniversary.
“This is from a CBC event we hosted this weekend to celebrate black women in Congress,” the congresswoman wrote in response to Trump’s retweet.
“The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk. What is Twitter doing to combat this misinformation?”