Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Trump sues Facebook, Twitter, Google for silencing him

Trump is accusing the media giants of restricting access to conservative viewpoints.

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Former US president Donald Trump on Wednesday filed lawsuits against Twitter, Facebook, and Alphabet’s Google, as well as their chief executives, alleging they unlawfully silence conservative viewpoints.

The lawsuits, filed in a Florida court, allege the California-based social media platforms violated the right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution by kicking him off their platforms, Reuters is reporting.

Trump is seeking class action status for the lawsuits, meaning he will represent not only himself but also the interests of other users of Twitter, Facebook, and Google’s YouTube who allege they have been unfairly silenced.

He filed three lawsuits with similar allegations: one against Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, one against Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey, and one against Google and its CEO Sundar Pichai.

“We will achieve a historic victory for American freedom and at the same time, freedom of speech,” Trump said at a news conference at his golf course in New Jersey. “Our case will prove this censorship is unlawful, it’s unconstitutional and it’s completely un-American.”

Twitter, Facebook, and Google did not immediately respond to requests by Reuters for comment.

Trump, a famously prolific tweeter, lost his social media megaphone this year after the companies said he violated their policies against glorifying violence.

They were able to do this after hundreds of his supporters stormed the US Capitol on Jan 6 after a Trump speech repeating his claims that his election defeat was the result of widespread voter fraud.

Trump has always denied that he incited his supporters to assault the government buildings.

His lawsuits are asking a judge to invalidate Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that has been called the backbone of the internet because it provides websites with protections from liability over content posted by users.

Trump and others who have attacked Section 230 say it has given big internet companies too much legal protection and allowed them to escape responsibility for their actions.

A federal judge in Florida last week blocked a recently enacted state law that was meant to authorise the state to penalise social media companies when they ban political candidates, with the judge saying the law likely violated free speech rights.

The lawsuit said the bill signed by Florida’s governor in May was unconstitutional.

It would have made Florida the first state to regulate how social media companies moderate online speech.

Legal experts who spoke to The Hill described Trump’s case as frivolous, predicting that it will almost certainly be dismissed in court because private companies are not subject to comply with the First Amendment.

In a further annoyance for Google, the attorneys general of 36 states and Washington DC announced on Wednesday they are suing the IT giant, alleging the company’s control over its Android app store violates antitrust laws, The Hill is reporting.

The antitrust lawsuit is the third filed by states against the Silicon Valley behemoth.

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