March 17 (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump posted to YouTube and Facebook on Friday, in a return to the tech platforms he used to power his political rise until he was cut off following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress by his followers.
The posts on his Facebook page and YouTube channel, which were titled “I’M BACK!,” show a CNN video announcing Trump’s election as president in the 2016 race against Hillary Clinton. It then fades to a ‘Trump 2024’ screen.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Trump says in the video.
Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) YouTube restored Trump’s channel earlier on Friday. Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) had reinstated Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts earlier this year.
His Twitter account was reinstated in November by the platform’s new owner Elon Musk but Trump has yet to post on Twitter.
Trump powered his improbable 2016 presidential campaign through his use of social media. His return gives him access to key vehicles for political fundraising, 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.
Trump’s campaign team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
His campaign spokesman told Fox News Digital in January that being back on Facebook “will be an important tool for the 2024 campaign to reach voters.”
The former president founded his own social media platform called Truth Social in late 2021, which he relied on to communicate with supporters during his ban from Twitter and Meta.
YouTube banned Trump in 2021 for violating its policy against inciting violence after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Opponents of Trump’s return point to his messages on Truth Social, where he has nearly 5 million followers, as evidence that he still poses the same risk that led to his suspensions.
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 Trump’s 2016 campaign, charges that Trump and his allies are arguing without evidence are politically motivated.
Trump also faces a $250 million civil fraud lawsuit brought by New York state, alleging a decade-long scheme to manipulate more than 200 asset valuations and Trump’s net worth to win better terms from banks and insurers. Trump has called the suit a witch hunt.