Donald Trump Is Suing Facebook, Twitter Over Censorship, Removal From Platforms

Former President Donald Trump filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against Facebook, Twitter and Google, as well as their respective CEOs.

During a press conference at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course, Trump, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, claimed that he and other conservatives were wrongfully censored by the platforms.

Twitter and Facebook suspended Trump amid concerns that he could spur additional violence after a mob of his supporters assaulted the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The former president currently can't post on either platform.

"We're demanding an end to the shadow-banning, a stop to the silencing and a stop to the blacklisting, banishing and canceling that you know so well," he said.

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act ordinarily exempts companies like Twitter and Facebook from liability for content posted by users on their sites. However, the law also gives private companies the ability to remove content believed to be inappropriate or in breach of community standards in "good faith," the Associated Press reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Trump Lawsuit
Donald Trump reportedly plans to announce a class-action lawsuit on Wednesday against Facebook, Twitter and Google. Above, Trump during a rally at the Sarasota Fairgrounds on July 3 in Sarasota, Florida. Jason Behnken/AP Photo

But Trump and some other politicians have long argued that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have abused that protection and should lose their immunity — or at least have to earn it by satisfying requirements set by the government.

Despite being banned, Trump has continued to spread lies about the 2020 election, baselessly claiming that he won, even though state and local election officials, his own attorney general and numerous judges, including some he appointed, have said there is no evidence of the mass voter fraud he alleges.

Facebook, Google and Twitter all declined comment Wednesday.

The suits argue that banning or suspending Trump and the other plaintiffs is a violation of the First Amendment, despite the fact that the companies are private. The suit against Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook acted unconstitutionally when it removed Trump from the platform. Suits against Twitter and YouTube make similar claims. All three ask the court to award unspecified damages, declare Section 230 unconstitutional and restore Trump's accounts, along with those of the other plaintiffs - a handful of others who have all had posts or accounts removed.

But Trump's lawsuits are likely doomed to fail, said Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University in California who has studied more than 60 similar, failed lawsuits over the past few decades that sought to take on internet companies for terminating or suspending users' accounts.

"They've argued everything under the sun, including First Amendment, and they get nowhere," Goldman said. "Maybe he's got a trick up his sleeve that will give him a leg up on the dozens of lawsuits before him. I doubt it."

Goldman said it's likely Trump is instead pursuing the suits to garner attention. As president, Trump last year signed an executive order challenging Section 230.

"It was always about sending a message to their base that they're fighting on their behalf against the evil Silicon Valley tech giants," Goldman said.

Matt Schruers, the president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a tech industry trade group that includes Facebook, Twitter and Google, said internet companies have a right to enforce their terms of service.

"Frivolous class action litigation will not change the fact that users — even U.S. Presidents — have to abide by the rules they agreed to," he said in a statement.

Twitter Logo
The logos of social media apps Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, Signal, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Snapchat on an iPhone. Chesnot/Getty Images