Former President Donald Trump announced he is leading a class-action lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter, and Google and their respective CEOs. The lawsuit is being filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida and brought in cooperation with the America First Policy Institute. On Wednesday, July 7, the announcement was made from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and reportedly viewed by 192,000 Americans.
The lawsuit aims to immediately end social media censorship practices such as shadowbanning, blacklisting, and canceling conservative viewpoints. During the announcement, Trump stated, “our case will prove this censorship is unlawful, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s completely un-American.”
Trump was suspended indefinitely from Facebook and YouTube shortly after the Capitol riot on January 6. The big tech firms claimed Trump’s vocal opposition to Joe Biden’s Presidential victory had incited violence. They feared more harm would be done if he were allowed to remain on the platforms. Facebook’s oversight board later stated that Trump would remain suspended from the platform until at least January 2023. YouTube said Trump would remain suspended until there is no longer “a risk of incitement to violence.” Trump is permanently banned from Twitter, where he was perhaps most prevalent. Twitter stated in a blog post about the situation, “after close review of recent tweets from the @RealDonaldTrump account and the context around them – specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter – we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
TRUMP: "I am filing, as the lead class representative, a major class-action lawsuit against the Big Tech giants including Facebook, Google, and Twitter as well as their CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey." pic.twitter.com/4ioTL3REjr
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 7, 2021
Axios reports the filing seeks to restore Trump’s social media accounts and impose “punitive damages” on the tech platforms. The filing also allows for Trump to sue on behalf of other people that have been victims of censorship and biased policies.
Social media platforms are technically private entities and content hosts. As such, they have enjoyed protection under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. As these platforms have become more like moderators and less like hosts, this filing also aims to limit the liability protection provided to them by section 230. The America First Policy Institute has said that the big tech platforms and their CEOs are “protected by an outdated and misrepresented section 230.” As a result of this protection, they have been able to quell some of the most fundamental rights of Americans.
Trump stated in the announcement that section 230 “profoundly protects them from liability” and is “in effect a massive government subsidy, these companies have been co-opted, coerced, and weaponized by government actors to become the enforcers of illegal, unconstitutional censorship.” Trump said social media companies have become “the de-facto censorship arm of the U.S. government.”