Former President Donald Trump filed suits against Facebook, Twitter, and Google in an effort to restore his online accounts. The three social media heavyweights suspended him from accessing his accounts following the January 6, 2021 riots in Washington DC.
Class Action Suit With Donald Trump As First Plaintiff
In the class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday, Donald Trump became the most prominent plaintiff status wanting justice against the three tech companies. He accused Facebook, Twitter, and Google of wrongly censoring him. In the process, they violated his First Amendment rights. During the news conference following the filing, Trump said that his team will hold big tech accountable.
Defendants to the lawsuit include the chief executives of the three companies. These are Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Both Twitter and Facebook declined to comment on the suit, while Spokespeople for Twitter and Facebook declined to comment. Google, which owns YouTube, did not immediately respond.
Ban On Donald Trump’s Social Media Accounts
After the January 6 Capitol riots, Facebook imposed a ban on Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, preventing him from posting new messages. Fearing that the former President will escalate the already tense situation at the Capitol, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the risks of the president using the services “are simply too great” at the time. Twitter and YouTube also joined the decision to ban Trump shortly after.
Due to that decision, Trump claimed Facebook banned him from “exercising his constitutional right of free speech,” according to the lawsuit. Kiyan and Bobby Michael, members of an advisory board for Trump’s reelection campaign also joined as plaintiffs for the suit. Also in the mix is Colorado Republican activist Kelly Victory.
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From Temporary Suspension To Permanent Ban
Later in January, Facebook decided to maintain its ban on Trump indefinitely. It also asked its independent oversight committee to determine whether the former President violated the company’s community standards and values.
Last May, the board ruled that the decision to ban Trump is completely justifiable. However, the company must have a clearer explanation on why it decided to permanently ban him.
Consequently, Facebook said it will enforce Trump’s bans for two more years. If reinstated, Trump’s accounts will face increasingly tougher sanctions for every violation. Facebook also warned that Trump faces another ban for repeated infractions.
Meanwhile, Twitter said its ban on Trump during the riots is permanent. Over the next few weeks, it upheld its decision and will not consider any changes. YouTube, on the other hand, said that its ban remains in place until it can determine that it’s safe to allow him.
Public Opinion Polls Support Trump
Trump also remarked that public opinion polls show that Americans support his lawsuit. He also vowed to take his legal fight to state legislatures and to the voters themselves.
In support, both his political committee and the Republican National Committee highlighted the former president’s lawsuit in their calls for fundraising.
However, First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams sees little chance of the suit moving forward. He called the lawsuit “irredeemably frivolous” and said that Section 230 of the Communications Act protects social-media outlets from suits like this.
This is despite the fact that the lawsuit claims the companies have wrongfully interpreted that section of federal law. Abrams said that Trump isn’t protected by the First Amendment, while the platforms are protected, he added.
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Case Can Prosper If Government Involved in Banning Trump
According to UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, Trump can get a win if he can prove that the government coerced the social platforms into blocking him. “That might be enough to show the government action needed for a viable First Amendment claim. But it’s a big if,” he said.
During his term, Trump is known to block individuals who criticized him on his Twitter account. In 2019, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals found it unconstitutional for the president to prevent individuals from viewing an official social media account. Later in April this year, the US Supreme Court dismissed the case as moot, Trump already left office.
Watch the Fox 46 Charlotte video reporting that Trump announces suits against Facebook, Twitter, and Google:
Do you support the lawsuit filed by former President Trump? Do you agree that the social media platforms blocked him unfairly?
Let us know what you think about social media versus the First Amendment rights of individuals. Share your comments below.