Meta announced Wednesday that it would soon restore former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, and while many on the political left were predictably opposed to the idea, it was supported by progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Breitbart reported.
Sanders, who previously expressed his discomfort with the broad social media ban against Trump, is clearly no fan of the former president but nonetheless believes he has a right to express himself in the modern-day public square.
“He has a right to express his views”
Sen. Sanders appeared Wednesday on CNN’s “AC360” for an interview with host Anderson Cooper on a variety of topics, including former President Trump’s impending reinstatement on Facebook and Instagram.
Near the conclusion of the discussion, Cooper asked, “Just briefly, do you think it’s the right choice for Facebook and Instagram to have President Trump back?”
“You know, it’s — look, you have a guy who is a pathological liar, but he happens to be the former President of the United States,” Sanders replied. “And he has a right to express his views.”
“I don’t feel comfortable about” Big Tech silencing Trump
That statement from Sen. Sanders in support of former President Trump’s right to express his views actually isn’t all that surprising, as the self-proclaimed democratic socialist from Vermont had previously spoken out against the seemingly coordinated manner in which all of the Big Tech social media platforms had banned or suspended Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot of 2021.
Politico reported in March 2021 that Sanders “railed against Trump” as a despicable person, but also noted that he was uncomfortable with him being silenced by Twitter and other platforms.
“You have a former president in Trump, who is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody who doesn’t believe in the rule of law,” Sanders said at that time in a New York Times podcast interview. “This is a bad news guy.”
“But if you’re asking me, do I feel particularly comfortable that the president, the then-president of the United States could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about it,” he continued.
Sanders went on to discuss the need to find “balance” in protecting free speech to a point and argued that while some might support silencing Trump now it could be them being silenced in the future, and said, “So I don’t like giving that much power to a handful of high tech people, but the devil is obviously in the details, and it’s something we’re going to have to think long and hard on.”
Meta to reinstate Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram
As for the impending reinstatement of former President Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following a two-year suspension, that was announced Wednesday in a blog post from Nick Clegg, Meta’s president for global affairs.
“As a general rule, we don’t want to get in the way of open, public and democratic debate on Meta’s platforms — especially in the context of elections in democratic societies like the United States,” Clegg wrote. “The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box.”
“As such, we will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks,” he said at one point. “However, we are doing so with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”
Those “guardrails” essentially include Trump’s posts being under increased scrutiny and the very real risk that, even if not in specific violation of the rules, his posts and/or account could be limited or even suspended again for a span of one month to two more years.