(CNN) — Former President Donald Trump has posted on Facebook for the first time since January 6, 2021, the day that rioters attacked the US Capitol.
“I’M BACK!” Trump wrote in the post, which included a short CNN clip of him from the night he was elected president during which he said: “Sorry to keep you waiting. Complicated business. Complicated.”
Trump’s return to Facebook restores his access to a critical fundraising tool at the outset of the 2024 presidential race, as several potential rivals line up to challenge Trump in his bid to become the GOP’s nominee for the third consecutive election, and as some high dollar donors indicate a desire to back an alternative.
The former president’s Facebook and Instagram accounts had been banned for two years following the Capitol riot. They were restored early last month after the Trump’s 2024 campaign asked Meta, the platforms’ parent company, to unblock his Facebook account.
Trump’s posts on January 6, 2021, included election lies and an attack on then-Vice President Mike Pence, before calling on rioters to be peaceful. The House select committee that investigated January 6 used several of the former president’s social media posts from that day to show his inaction as the violence unfolded.
Though Twitter was Trump’s preferred messaging platform in previous elections, he has massive reach on Facebook and Instagram — 34 million followers and 23 million followers, respectively. His campaigns have spent millions running ads using Facebook’s targeted advertising tools.
Trump’s campaign staffers have been eager for the former president to reengage on Facebook because doing so would help them access an enormous field of potential donors.
“It makes my job a lot easier,” one adviser who works on outreach and fundraising said.
The move also comes as Trump’s team prepares for potential criminal charges to be brought against the former president in New York. Trump aides have spent several days planning a response strategy that includes how to amplify their messaging, including through social media.
A current Trump adviser noted last month, when Facebook and Instagram restored Trump’s accounts, that the former president has never used Facebook in the way he used Twitter, which became his primary medium for communicating with his political base as president before he was removed from the platform in the wake of the January 6 attack.
Still, this person said, the Trump campaign would leap at the opportunity to resume using his likeness in its Facebook advertisements.
“It is the most important vehicle for fundraising and for reaching a lot of people in the persuadable audience,” the adviser said.
In the wake of his bans, Trump launched his own social media platform: Truth Social. There, he has posted hundreds of false claims about widespread voter fraud.
After purchasing Twitter last year, Elon Musk restored Trump’s account there, where he has 87 million followers. However, Trump has not posted on Twitter since January 8, 2021.
YouTube on Friday also said it was restoring Trump’s account, allowing him to upload new videos.
“Starting today, the Donald J. Trump channel is no longer restricted and can upload new content. 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 on Twitter.
Democrats had warned Meta of the consequences of Trump’s return to the platform, with some lawmakers writing in a letter to the company late last year that Trump should be kept off the site as he continues to attack American democracy by repeating lies about the 2020 election. Republicans, free speech advocates and others, however, argued that maintaining the ban was an undue act of censorship and could put Trump at a disadvantage as a 2024 candidate.
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