The Trump administration was just hit with the first lawsuit challenging its executive order targeting social-media companies

bpietsch@businessinsider.com (Bryan Pietsch)
Trump executive order

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A technology advocacy group on Tuesday sued the Trump administration over its executive order targeting social-media companies, arguing that the order was "retaliatory" and violates the First Amendment. 

The lawsuit from the Center for Democracy and Technology, based in Washington, DC, is the first legal challenge for President Donald Trump's executive order last week, which legal experts have said would be difficult to implement and possibly illegal. 

Trump issued the executive order to change Section 230, the part of a 1996 communications law that protects social-media companies if they choose to moderate content, after Twitter flagged his tweets with a fact-check notice. The tweets made unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting.

The lawsuit argues the order is "plainly retaliatory" in its response to Twitter's action and that it "attacks a private company, Twitter, for exercising its First Amendment right to comment on the President's statements." Twitter put a notice on the tweet but did not take it down.

The suit also argues that Trump's order violates the First Amendment because it "seeks to curtail and chill the constitutionally protected speech of all online platforms and individuals — by demonstrating the willingness to use government authority to retaliate against those who criticize the government." 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Legal experts told Business Insider's Sonam Sheth and Ashley Gold that parts of Trump's order are likely illegal and would require federal agencies to go against precedent.

"It doesn't seem like it's enforceable. It will be smacked down relatively quickly by injunction or by litigation and the courts," Kate Klonick, a professor of internet law at St. John's University, said. "It ignores 25 years of jurisprudence broadly interpreting Section 230." 

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