At one time, he could disrupt the schedules of major news networks with a single disjointed tweet. Now he’s just another baby boomer with a failed blog.
Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday he’s seeking class action lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter and Google, claiming they have infringed his First Amendment rights and those of “thousands more.” His lawyers have filed complaints against the companies and their respective CEOs in U.S. District Court in Miami.
In a press conference hosted by the America First Policy Institute, Trump’s post-presidency think tank, Trump alleged that his right to freedom of speech has been infringed by the tech giants. AFPI distributed a livestream of the event via its Twitter account, calling into question the validity of the claim.
At issue are Trump’s various social media accounts, the most prominent of which were suspended in January of this year after a violent mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol at Trump’s direction, seeking to overthrow American democracy.
Twitter banned Trump permanently, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.” Facebook, meanwhile, initially suspended the former president “indefinitely” before cutting that to a conditional two-year ban. YouTube also suspended Trump for inciting violence, pending review.
Twitter declined to comment, and the other two tech companies did not immediately return HuffPost’s requests.
Trump attempted to reclaim his online presence by launching his own “communications platform,” a webpage called “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump.” The platform was virtually indistinguishable from a blog and, like so many other Trump-branded products, failed after a month, doomed by low readership and constant mockery.
John Coale, one of Trump’s lawyers in the suits, said the legal team intends to argue that social media companies are state actors and therefore subject to First Amendment constraints.
“Who decides what’s hate? Who decides what’s misinformation? It’s not a couple guys out in California,” he said. “It’s always been the Supreme Court for over 200 years and I would say they’ve done a heck of a job.”
The former president said he’s seeking “potentially trillions of dollars” in damages.
Regardless of the suits’ legal merits, it may prove a boon to Trump’s war chest. He began fundraising on the claim immediately after the event concluded.
Conservatives have long accused social media companies of pro-liberal bias even as mounting evidence suggests the opposite is true.
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