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YouTube restores Trump's channel

YouTube is reinstating former US president Donald Trump's account, the video-sharing platform said on Friday.
YouTube has joined social networking giant Meta in reinstating Donald Trump's account
AFP/File | Eva Marie UZCATEGUI

YouTube is reinstating former US president Donald Trump's account, the video-sharing platform said on Friday, more than two years after he was banned over the US Capitol insurrection.

The 76-year-old Republican leader -- who is running for president again -- has been unable to post any content and his 2.6 million followers were blocked from commenting on old videos.

YouTube benched Trump days after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, when a mob of his supporters seeking to halt the certification of his election defeat to Joe Biden stormed the US Capitol in Washington.

He was suspended for posting content that the platform said incited unrest, adding that he would be allowed to return when "the risk of violence has decreased." 

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.

"Starting today, the Donald J. Trump channel is no longer restricted and can upload new content," YouTube said in a statement.

"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."

YouTube is the latest of several social media platforms that have restored Trump's accounts after they were frozen in the wake of the insurrection.

Social networking giant Meta announced in January it was reinstating Trump's accounts on Facebook and Instagram with "new guardrails."

His Twitter account, which has 87 million followers, was also blocked after the riot, leaving him to communicate through Truth Social, where he has fewer than five million followers.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed more than 400 legal actions against Trump, applauded Meta's decision.

"Like it or not, President Trump is one of the country's leading political figures and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech," executive director Anthony Romero said in a statement.

"Indeed, some of Trump's most offensive social media posts ended up being critical evidence in lawsuits filed against him and his administration."

But advocacy groups such as Media Matters for America vehemently oppose allowing Trump to exploit the social networking reach of the Big Tech giants.

Trump's shock victory in 2016 was credited in part to his leverage of social media and his enormous digital reach -- but he has yet to post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter since his reinstatement.

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

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