New York TimesJuly 8, 2021 11:51:23 AMT
On Wednesday, former President Donald Trump sued three technology giants – Facebook, Twitter and Google – and corporate executives after platforms had taken various steps to ban him or prevent him from posting.
Trump, who told a golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, said he is acting as the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit, claiming he has been censored by technology companies. Speaking of freedom of speech and the First Amendment – which concerns government, not private sector companies – Trump called his lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, “a very beautiful development.”
His political activities immediately began to raise funds.
In the incident and in the litigation documents, Trump’s legal team argued that the technology companies were state actors and thus the First Amendment applied to them.
According to legal experts, similar reasoning has repeatedly failed in the courts in the past.
Under current law, social media companies can control their platforms. They are protected by a provision known as Section 230, which relieves Internet companies of responsibility for matters sent to their network and also allows them to remove messages that violate their standards.
In the trial, the court is asked to declare section 230, which Trump has objected to, “unconstitutional” and to restore the former president’s access to the sites as well as other members of the lawsuit who have been barred. The suit also asks to prevent technology companies from “censoring” Trump in the future.
“Our case shows that this censorship is illegal, unconstitutional and completely un-American,” Trump said. “If they can do it for me, they can do it for anyone.”
Twitter declined to comment. Facebook and Google did not respond immediately to requests for comments.
To some extent, the lawsuit seemed to have as much publicity as the actual legal gambit. Trump said he plans to pursue the agenda of anti-tech companies in Congress, state lawmakers and “eventually in the ballot box.”
Before Trump had spoken, both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee had sent text messages and requested responses.
This article originally appeared New York Times.
Shane Goldmacher [c.2021 The New York Times Company]