On Friday, former US President Donald Trump made a triumphant return to social media, posting to his Facebook and YouTube accounts in what many see as a major move ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Trump’s posts were titled “I’M BACK!”, and showed a CNN video announcing his election as president in the 2016 race against Hillary Clinton. The video then fades to a “Trump 2024″ screen.
Trump’s return to social media is significant because his use of these platforms played a key role in his rise to power, particularly during his improbable 2016 presidential campaign. By being able to reach his 146 million followers across three major tech platforms, Trump now has access to important vehicles for political fundraising as he makes another run for the presidency in 2024.
However, his return to Facebook and YouTube has been controversial, with opponents pointing to his messages on his own social media platform, Truth Social, as evidence that he still poses the same risk that led to his suspensions. YouTube banned Trump in 2021 for violating its policy against inciting violence after his supporters stormed the US Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Despite this controversy, both Facebook and YouTube have reinstated Trump’s accounts. Alphabet’s YouTube restored Trump’s channel earlier on Friday, while Meta Platforms reinstated Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts earlier this year. His Twitter account was reinstated in November by the platform’s new owner Elon Musk, but Trump has yet to post on Twitter.
In a tweet, YouTube said, “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,” referring to its move to restore Trump’s account.
Trump’s campaign team did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but his campaign spokesperson told Fox News Digital in January that being back on Facebook “will be an important tool for the 2024 campaign to reach voters”.
It’s worth noting that Trump founded his own social media platform called Truth Social in late 2021, which he relied on to communicate with supporters during his ban from Twitter and Meta. However, his return to Facebook and YouTube is significant because these platforms have a much larger user base.
Trump’s return to social media is happening just as the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is considering criminal charges related to hush-money payments made to a porn star during Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump and his allies argue without evidence that the charges are politically motivated. Additionally, Trump also faces a $250 million civil fraud lawsuit brought by New York state, alleging a decade-long scheme to manipulate more than 200 asset valuations and Trump’s net worth to win better terms from banks and insurers. Trump has called the suit a witch hunt.