Meta weighing decision on Trump ban

Meta says it expects to make an announcement in the near future about its suspension of former President Trump’s Facebook account after crossing the company’s self-imposed deadline.

Meanwhile, New Jersey and Ohio became the latest states to ban TikTok on state government devices following a growing trend.

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Coming soon: Meta decision on Trump ban

Facebook parent company Meta is weighing a decision over whether to reinstate former President Trump’s account two years after the initial suspension took effect.

Meta spokesperson Andy Stone told The Hill in a statement the social media giant will “announce a decision in the coming weeks in line with the process we laid out.”

  • Trump’s account was suspended following posts he made about the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.  

  • Six months after the initial suspension, Meta’s Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said the suspension would remain in place for at least two years from when it began. Meta crossed its two-year self-imposed timestamp over the weekend.  

  • Clegg previously said at the end of the two-year period Meta would “look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded.”

If Meta does reinstate Trump’s account, it would give him access to a wider audience of users ahead of his 2024 presidential run.

Trump already regained access to his Twitter account, in a reversal made under new Twitter CEO Elon Musk. But the former president has yet to return to using his Twitter account, opting instead to remain on his social media app Truth Social.

Pressure from the left: Democrats and left-leaning advocacy groups have called for Meta to keep the ban in place.

  • Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.), André Carson (Ind.) and Kathy Castor (Fla.)., along with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), sent Clegg a letter last month urging Meta to extend the ban on Trump’s Facebook account. They said his account would still pose risks of inciting violence and undermine democracy, citing posts made on Truth Social.

Accountable Tech and Media Matters for America last month launched a “Keep Trump off Facebook” ad campaign along with a report highlighting hundreds of Trump’s posts on Truth Social they said would violate Facebook’s rules. The posts amplified followers and sympathizers of the QAnon conspiracy theory and contained “harmful” election-related disinformation.

More states move to ban TikTok

New Jersey is the latest state to ban the use of popular video-based social media platform TikTok on state government devices, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced.

  • “Bolstering cybersecurity is critical to protecting the overall safety and welfare of our State,” Murphy said in a statement Monday.

  • “There have been national security concerns about user data the Chinese government might require ByteDance to provide,” the statement adds.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) also issued an executive order banning the use of TikTok from government devices on the first day of his second term as governor.

The order, signed on Sunday, prohibits “certain applications, platforms and websites” on state-owned and state-leased devices, citing local security and cybersecurity concerns.

Federal lawmakers included a ban on the use of the application on the devices of federal employees in their $1.7 trillion funding package that was passed in late December.

Read more here

AMERICANS MORE LIKELY TO BROWSE SOCIAL MEDIA

A new Gallup poll found that Americans say they are more likely to browse a social media platform’s content rather than upload their own posts.

  • The survey found that while most Americans who use social media platforms have accounts associated with them, less than half of those with accounts post their own content.

  • Facebook and YouTube are the most popular platforms among Americans, with 76 percent and 89 percent, respectively, saying they have used the platforms.

Nearly half of Facebook account holders, which is equivalent to about 35 percent of Americans, said they post content occasionally on the platform.

Instagram was the second most likely platform where Americans post content, with 42 percent of users saying they posted their own content.

Read more here.

MUSK WINS WORLD RECORD FOR LARGEST PERSONAL FINANCIAL LOSS

Elon Musk has secured a world record for the largest loss of personal fortune in history, Guinness World Records said Friday.

In a blog post, the global organization, which keeps track of a huge variety of records, cited Forbes’s estimate that Musk had lost around $182 billion since November 2021 but noted that other sources indicate the figure is closer to $200 billion.

Musk’s losses appear to easily surpass those of the previous record-holder, Japanese tech investor Masayoshi Son, who lost $58.6 billion in 2000.

Forbes reported that that Musk’s net worth dropped from a peak of $320 billion in November 2021 to $137 billion on Tuesday. The magazine attributed Musk’s steep decline in net worth to shares of Tesla, of which Musk is CEO and the largest shareholder, falling by 65 percent.

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Fear of free expression damages American civilization

Notable links from around the web: 

Facebook’s Bridge to Nowhere (The New York Times / Issie Lapowsky)

Come to the ‘war cry party’: How social media helped drive mayhem in Brazil (The Washington Post / Elizabeth Dwoskin)

✏️ Lighter click: Guilty as charged

ONE LAST THING

End of Jan. 6 panel means new chapter for DOJ

The close of the Jan. 6 committee marks a new chapter in the review of the deadly Capitol riot, with the fact-finding mission of the panel — and their plea for accountability — now resting largely with the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The select committee’s investigation, which effectively ended with the culmination of the last Congress, has left a trove of leads for the DOJ to explore.

Its report highlighted investigative loose ends, while the panel left thousands of exhibits of raw evidence posted publicly.

It also finished with a direct ask of the DOJ: to weigh criminal referrals against former President Trump and the attorney who encouraged former Vice President Mike Pence to buck his ceremonial duty to certify the 2020 election results.

Read more here.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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