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Trump presses Facebook to restore his account

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A mobile billboard, deployed by activist group Accountable Tech, is seen outside the Meta headquarter on January 17, 2023 in Menlo Park, California./AFP
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Jan 19, 2023 - 04:41 AM

WASHINGTON — Former US president Donald Trump is urging Facebook to reinstate his account two years after it was deactivated, his aides said Wednesday, as he gears up for a third bid for the White House.

The social media giant banned Trump a day after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, when a mob of his supporters tried to halt the certification of his election defeat to Joe Biden by storming the US Capitol in Washington.

The former reality TV star had spent weeks falsely claiming that the presidential election was stolen from him and he was subsequently impeached for inciting the riot.

Trump’s lawyer Scott Gast said in a letter to Facebook parent company Meta, obtained by AFP, that the ban had “dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse.”

He asked for a meeting to discuss Trump’s “prompt reinstatement to the platform,” where he had 34 million followers, arguing that his status as the leading contender for the Republican nomination in 2024 justified ending the ban.

“We also believe that a continued ban would basically constitute… a deliberate effort by a private company to silence Mr. Trump’s political voice,” Gast wrote.

A US congressional committee recommended in December that Trump be prosecuted for his role in the Capitol assault.

His Twitter account, which has 88 million followers, was also blocked after the riot, leaving the 76-year-old Republican to communicate through his own platform, Truth Social, where he has fewer than five million followers.

California-based Facebook had said it would review Trump’s ban on January 7, after two years had elapsed.

“We will announce a decision in the coming weeks in line with the process we laid out.” the company told AFP on Wednesday.

Trump’s shock victory in 2016 was credited in part to his leverage of social media and his enormous digital reach.

New Twitter owner Elon Musk reinstated Trump’s account last November, days after the tycoon announced his decision to run for another term in the White House. He has yet to post.

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