Donald Trump files suit against social media giants Facebook and Twitter

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  • Donald Trump
    Donald Trump
    45th President of the United States

Former President Donald Trump has announced plans to file class-action lawsuits against several Big Tech companies that removed him from their platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. However, many are calling it nothing but a performative gesture with almost no chance of success. On July 7, Trump announced that he was filing a series of lawsuits against Google, Facebook, and Twitter alongside their CEOs. "We're demanding an end to the shadow banning, a stop to the silencing, a stop to the blacklisting, vanishing, and canceling," Trump said at a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump's lawyers filed the class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida that day.

In the lawsuit against Facebook, the authors argue that "defendant Facebook has increasingly engaged in impermissible censorship resulting from threatened legislative action, a misguided reliance upon Section 230 of the Communications Act, 47 USC § 230, and willful participation in joint activity with federal actors" and Facebook's "status thus rises beyond that of a private company to that of a state actor." All three of the lawsuits resonate with these notions of social media acting as state actors. Specifically, Trump's lawyers wish to imply that the social networks in question enacted their bans upon him after congressional hearings coerced the social networks into changing their policies. Unfortunately, the threshold for determining whether a subject is a government actor concerning the First Amendment is exceptionally high. The lawsuit also fails to understand how Section 230 works in that it does not dictate which sites are allowed to moderate their content.

Lyle Solomon, principal attorney at Oak View Law Group, also argues that the defendants could make a similar argument to Trump's to counter them, saying, "If the government forces Facebook to allow content they do not like on their platform, it is effectively violating Facebook's freedom of speech to determine what they choose to allow on their property."

What is far more interesting about the lawsuit is what it will mean from a political standpoint.

"The lawsuits that the former president, Donald Trump, filed against Facebook, Twitter, and Google on July 7 are a smart political move. However, they are unlikely to succeed and set a dangerous trajectory for the relationship between government and private companies," argues Justin Crump, CEO of intelligence and risk advisory consultancy Sibylline. "They keep Trump relevant to voters, play to the conservative strength of painting Big Tech as the liberal boogeyman, and off the back of his case, Save America PAC has sent text messages to followers asking for donations that the PAC could use to help pro-Trump candidates in future elections."

Others see it as a chance to challenge the status quo. "This is another case where technology is ahead of legislation," argues Cesar Melgoza, CEO of the nonpartisan civic engagement platform Moxy. "So lawmakers need to play catch-up in a fast-changing environment — perhaps by taking the issue to the highest courts where lawmakers can challenge Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996."

Melgoza believes that Trump's lawsuit gestures at a more significant trend with social media that requires attention, regardless of how valid the nature of the suit is.

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Tags: Technology, Twitter, Facebook, Big Tech, Class-action lawsuits, Law, Free Speech, Business

Original Author: Christopher Hutton

Original Location: Donald Trump files suit against social media giants Facebook and Twitter

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