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Former US president Donald Trump has announced that he is suing three of the world’s largest social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The 45th president of the United States plans to take on the companies’ respective CEOs, too – Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai (CEO of YouTube’s parent company, Alphabet).
The lawsuits have rallied Republican voters, fundraisers, and donors, yet legal experts still say they are all but guaranteed to fail.
During a press conference held on Wednesday 7th, Trump revealed that he would be suing the social media giants and their respective CEOs in class-action lawsuits. He unveiled his plan at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump was accompanied by two leaders from the America First Policy Institute – the pro-Trump non-profit group supporting the lawsuits.
The lawsuits are the result of Trump being banned from all three social media outlets. Filed in a federal court in Florida, the three related cases state that the tech giants have violated the plaintiff’s First Amendment right to free speech. Trump was barred from all three in January 2021 following the Capitol riots.
Twitter, which was once the former president’s favourite outlet for his stream of consciousness, permanently banned his account on January 6th. Throughout his presidency, Trump and his incessant tweeting often landed him in hot water, but on January 6th, he was accused of inciting violence.
Facebook followed suit, suspending Trump’s account on the same day. “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Mark Zuckerberg said in a post at the time. In June, the social media platform stated that the ban would remain in place until at least January 2023.
YouTube indefinitely banned the former president in January, too. The video-sharing platform suspended his channel “due to the risk of incitement to violence.”
When questioned by reporters, Trump said, “we’re not looking to settle… We don’t know what’s going to happen but we’re not looking to settle.” The former president said that he is asking a court in Florida “to order an immediate halt to social media companies’ illegal, shameful censorship of the American people.”
Not only are the lawsuits designed to help get Trump back on these social media platforms, but the aim is to get the court to declare that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is unconstitutional. Section 230 is a piece of legislation that stops tech companies from being held liable for what users post on their platforms.
Trump and his associates believe the social media platforms overstepped their authority by removing his accounts based on the things that he said. Only the Supreme Court has the authority to decide what qualifies as hate speech.
Shortly after the press conference, Trump’s team and the Republican National Committee began sending out fundraising appeals related to the class action suits. The website recruiting participants for the proposed lawsuits featured a link to donate.
Legal experts aren’t convinced that Trump’s latest attack on big tech companies will be successful. The companies in question are private entities, and as such, claims about constitutional violations do not hold up.
“I think this is just a public relations lawsuit,” said Brian Fitzpatrick, a law professor at Vanderbilt University.
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