Trump files suit against Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – KIRO 7 News Seattle


WASHINGTON – (AP) – Former President Donald Trump has filed lawsuits against three of the country’s largest tech companies, alleging that he and other conservatives have been wrongly censored. But legal experts say that given the existing precedents and legal redress, the lawsuits are likely to be doomed.

Trump announced the action against Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube as well as the companies Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai on Wednesday at a press conference in New Jersey, at which he called for the restoration of his accounts.

Trump has been suspended from the platforms since January when his supporters forcibly stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s presidential victory. The companies cited concerns that Trump would incite further violence and have locked him out. All three declined to comment on Wednesday.

“We are asking the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida to order an immediate stop to the illegal, shameful censorship of the American people by social media companies,” said Trump, very accountable of the files. “

Twitter, Facebook, and Google are all private companies, and users must agree to their terms of service in order to use their products. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act 1996 allows social media platforms to moderate their services by removing posts that are, for example, obscene or violate the service’s own standards, as long as they act in “good faith”. The law also fundamentally exempts internet companies from liability for the material that users post.

But Trump and several other politicians have long argued that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have abused this protection and should lose their immunity – or at least should be restricted.

While conservatives often claim that the websites are biased against them, several recent studies have found that they are not. In fact, posts from conservative commenters like Ben Shapiro, Franklin Graham, Dan Bongino, and Dinesh D’Souza are routinely among the most shared posts on Facebook.

The lawsuit against Facebook and CEO Zuckerberg said Facebook acted unconstitutionally when it removed Trump from the platform. Lawsuits against Twitter and YouTube make similar claims. All three are calling on the court to award unspecified damages, declare Section 230 unconstitutional, and restore Trump’s accounts, as well as those of several other plaintiffs who joined the lawsuits and whose posts or accounts have been removed.

Trump’s lawsuits are likely to fail, however, said Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University in California, who has investigated more than 60 similar, failed lawsuits alleging internet companies charges of termination or suspension of user accounts.

“They’ve been discussing everything under the sun, including the First Amendment, and they’re getting nowhere,” Goldman said. “Maybe he has a trick up his sleeve that keeps him one step ahead of the dozen of lawsuits ahead. I doubt it.”

“Trump’s lawsuit is DOA,” repeated Paul Barrett, assistant director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Barrett said Trump fundamentally misunderstood the constitution. “The first amendment applies to state censorship or language regulation. It doesn’t prevent private sector companies from regulating content on their platforms, ”he said via email. “In fact, Facebook and Twitter themselves have a right of free expression under the First Amendment to determine what language their platforms project and amplify – and that right includes the exclusion of spokespeople who incite violence, as Trump did with the Uprising at the Capitol on January 6th. “

Goldman said he suspects Trump’s legal team knows it won’t win in court and suggested that Trump pursue the lawsuits to get attention.

In fact, Trump’s political action committee raised money from the announcement as early as Wednesday afternoon.

As president, Trump signed an executive order last year contesting Section 230, which was seen as largely symbolic.

“It was always about sending a message to their base that they were fighting the evil tech giants from Silicon Valley on their behalf,” Goldman said.

Trump’s move comes a week after a federal judge blocked a new Florida bill signed by a Trump ally, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who used major social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter for content removal or removal wanted to punish the ban on politicians. The law would have allowed the state to fine companies $ 250,000 a day for removing the accounts of statewide political candidates and $ 25,000 a day for removing the accounts of those running for local office to run. But U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued an injunction on June 30th preventing the new law from being enforced.

The judge said tech companies contesting the law would likely win their allegations that it violated the First Amendment if the case were brought to justice.

Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a technology industry trading group that includes Facebook, Twitter and Google, said Internet companies have the right to enforce their terms of use.

“Frivolous class actions will not change the fact that users – even US presidents – have to abide by the rules that they have agreed to,” he said in a statement.

Since leaving the White House, Trump has continued to lie about the 2020 election, claiming without reason that he won, despite federal and local electoral officials, his own attorney general, and numerous judges, including some appointed by him, have said there is no evidence of the alleged mass election fraud.

__ O’Brien answered from Providence, Rhode Island. Associated Press writer Mae Anderson contributed to this Nashville report.