On Tuesday night, former president Donald Trump held a rally which officially ended all the speculation about his future political aspirations. Trump announced he was indeed running for president again, essentially kicking off his 2024 campaign.
There was some chatter that Trump was announcing his presidential run now in order to avoid a Department of Justice criminal probe. The rumor has since been shot down by the DOJ. But there is at least one perk that Trump can take advantage of now:
Facebook’s parent company Meta now considers him to be a political candidate, and according to Facebook policy, politicians are not fact-checked on the platform.
The former president — the same one who spends his days continuing to perpetuate falsehoods about the 2020 election being stolen from him and sharing posts from QAnon conspiracy theorists on his social media platform Truth Social — is now immune to Facebook’s fact-checkers.
CNN obtained an internal memo from Meta that was sent hours before Trump’s announcement on Tuesday in which the social media company reminded employees of the rule. The memo reiterated that “political speech is ineligible for fact-checking” and encompasses not just what a politician says but also photos, videos, and other content created by a politician or their campaign.
“Some of you have reached out seeking guidance regarding fact-checking political speech in anticipation of a potential candidacy announcement from former President Trump,” reads the memo. “If former President Trump makes a clear, public announcement that he is running for office, he would be considered a politician under our program policies.”
The rule is not new. It was first established at Facebook in 2019, which was pointed by Meta spokesperson Andy Stone in a statement provided to CNN saying “a reiteration of our long-standing policy should not be news to anyone.”
However, it certainly is notable when it involves a former president who has a habit of lying, especially when Facebook-itself will soon determine whether to let this individual back on its own platform.
Trump was banned from Facebook back in January 2021 amid the fallout from the events of Jan. 6, which saw a pro-Trump mob violently storm the Capitol building in an effort to overturn the 2020 election results in Trump’s favor. The former president has been banned from the platform since.
However, as a result of a ruling by its Oversight Board, Meta determined that Trump’s suspension would be in force for a two year term. At that point, Meta would evaluate the suspension and possibly allow Trump back on Facebook.
That reevaluation is quickly coming up in January 2023. Facebook users should know that if Trump returns to the platform and isn’t being fact checked, it’s not because what he’s saying is factual.
It’s simply because as a presidential candidate, Trump is immune to the rules that nearly every one else on the platform is bound by.