WASHINGTON - Former US president Donald Trump posted to YouTube and Facebook on Friday, in a return to social media platforms that he used to power his political rise until he was cut off following the Jan 6, 2021, attack on Congress by his followers.
Trump shared a video that appeared to be from one of his previous election speeches.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. Complicated business,” Mr Trump was seen saying in the video, captioned “I’M BACK.”
Alphabet’s YouTube restored Trump’s channel earlier on Friday.
Trump powered his improbable 2016 presidential campaign through his use of social media. His return to the platforms gives him access to key vehicles for political fund-raising, allowing him to reach a combined 146 million followers across three major tech platforms as he makes another run for the presidency in 2024.
“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 said in a tweet, referring to its move to restore his account.
Meta Platforms had reinstated Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts earlier this year, while his Twitter account was restored in November by the platform’s new owner Elon Musk. Mr Trump has yet to post on Twitter.
Mr Trump’s campaign team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
YouTube banned Mr Trump in 2021 for violating its policy of inciting violence after his supporters stormed the US Capitol when Congress began to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
Opponents of Mr Trump’s return point to his messages on the Truth Social platform he founded in late 2021, where he has nearly five million followers, as evidence that he still poses the same risk that led various social media platforms to suspend him before.
Mr Trump’s return to YouTube and Facebook is happening just as the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is considering criminal charges related to hush-money payments made to a porn star during Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign, charges that Mr Trump and his allies are arguing without evidence are politically motivated.
Mr Trump also faces a US$250 million (S$330 million) civil fraud lawsuit brought by New York state, alleging a decade-long scheme to manipulate more than 200 asset valuations and Mr Trump’s net worth to win better terms from banks and insurers.
Mr Trump has called the suit a witch hunt. REUTERS