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Donald Trump suing Facebook, Twitter and Google, accusing them of violating First Amendment

Former US President Donald Trump seeks revenge on the big tech companies that banned him by taking them to federal court.

Former US President Donald Trump is suing Facebook, Twitter, and Google, accusing the tech giants of violating their right to freedom of speech.

Mr. Trump is the lead plaintiff in class-action lawsuits targeting CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai.

Today, announcing the legal action at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, he said the companies had become a “de facto censorship arm of the US government”.

“We’re demanding an end to the shadow banning, a stop to the silencing, and a stop to the black-listing, banishing, and canceling,” said Mr. Trump.

“Our case will prove this censorship is unlawful, unconstitutional, and completely un-American.”

Mr. Trump is banned from posting on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, owned by Google.

He was suspended from the platforms after the Capitol riot on January 6. A mob of his supporters violently stormed Congress to stop it from certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

The social media companies said Mr. Trump had used their platforms to spread misinformation about the election. They cited the risk of his rhetoric inciting further violence in banning him.

The Twitter ban is permanent, while Facebook will last until January 2023.

“There is no better evidence that big tech is out of control than the fact that they banned the sitting president of the United States earlier this year, a ban that continues today,” Mr. Trump said.

“If they can do it to me, they can do it to anyone. And in fact, that is exactly what they are doing.”

The First Amendment to the US Constitution prevents the government from “abridging the freedom of speech”.

However, Facebook, Twitter, and Google are private companies. Mr. Trump’s lawsuits seek to get around this by arguing that all three are “state actors”.

For example, this is what the suit against Facebook says.

“Defendant Facebook has increasingly engaged in impermissible censorship resulting from threatened legislative action, a misguided reliance upon Section 230 of the Communications Act, and wilful participation in joint activity with federal actors,” it says. Defendant Facebook’s status thus rises beyond a private company’s to that of a state actor. As such, the defendant is constrained by the First Amendment right to free speech in its censorship decisions regarding its users.”

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act gives internet platforms broad exemptions from legal liability for their users’ content online. That provision of the law allows social media sites to remove content and suspend users in cases like Mr. Trump’s. It also allows social media companies to regulate the content on their platforms as long as they act “in good faith”. They can remove or restrict content they determine is “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected”. Mr. Trump has repeatedly called for Section 230 to be repealed. So has Mr. Biden, though for different reasons.

Mr. Trump’s lawsuits say the authority given to tech companies under Section 230 to moderate their platforms is unconstitutional. Republicans argue the law allows companies to censor conservatives, while Democrats believe it will enable them to avoid combating hate speech, knowing they will not be held liable for it. “Plaintiff respectfully asks this court to declare that Section 230 on its face is an unconstitutional delegation of authority,” the suit against Facebook says.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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