Trump pronounces anti-censorship lawsuit in opposition to Fb, Twitter

Issued on: 07/07/2021 – 19:56Changed: 07/07/2021 – 7:54 pm

Washington (AFP)

Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday unveiled a class action lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter and Google that escalated his year-long struggle for freedom of expression with tech giants whom he claims were wrongly censored.

“I’m filing a major class action lawsuit against big tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter and their CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey – three really nice guys,” Trump announced at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey .

The country’s top tech companies have become “advocates of illegal, unconstitutional censorship,” added the 75-year-old Republican after his supporters fatally sieged the US Capitol on the 6th.

Trump says he is supported in the lawsuit by the America First Policy Institute and thousands of American citizens who have been “de-platformed” from social media sites.

“We stand up for American democracy by standing up for the right to freedom of expression for all Americans – Democrats, Republicans, independents, whoever it is,” Trump said. “This lawsuit is just the beginning.”

Trump filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in South Florida calling for an immediate stop to censorship, blacklisting and what he called the “erasure” of those who share his political views.

Trump stressed that he was not looking for an agreement. “We are in a fight that we will win,” he said.

The lawsuit comes amid unprecedented measures by Congress to contain the power of big tech. Late last month, the House of Representatives pushed ahead with major antitrust law reforms targeting the business practices of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook.

– ‘Out of control’ –

Facebook indefinitely banned Trump on Jan. 7 for his inflammatory comments preceding the Capitol uprising.

Twitter followed quickly and blocked Trump’s account permanently because of the “danger of further incitement to violence”.

In June, following a review by Facebook’s independent board of directors, Facebook shortened the ban to two years.

Trump said YouTube and its parent organization Google deleted “countless videos,” including many dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The billionaire, his allies and many supporters say banning Trump and others amounts to censorship and an abuse of power.

“There is no better evidence that big tech is out of control than the fact that they banned the incumbent President of the United States,” Trump said.

Legal experts give Trump’s case little chance of success.

The first amendment to the US Constitution “only restricts state actors, not private entities,” Eric Goldman, director of the High-Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, told AFP, adding that dozens of other similar cases have critically failed.

In the complaint filed against Facebook, Trump argues that Big Tech’s collaborative work with federal agencies is shifting its status from a private company to a state actor.

“As such, the defendant is limited by the freedom of expression of the First Amendment in the censorship decisions it makes in relation to its users,” the lawsuit states.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, which includes Facebook, Google and Twitter, said digital services have the right to enforce their terms of use.

“Frivolous class action lawsuits will not change the fact that users – including US presidents – have to adhere to the rules that they have agreed to,” said CCIA President Matt Schruers.

Trump has embarked on a number of public engagements, including campaign-style rallies, to assert his status as the most influential Republican in the nation.

He instigated a possible presidential candidacy in 2024, but made no announcement about his political future.

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