Former President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he is filing a lawsuit that seeks unspecified punitive damages against three tech companies over a variety of issues related to censorship.
The Washington Post reported:
The suits allege that the companies violated Trump’s First Amendment rights in suspending his accounts and argues that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which is owned by Google, no longer should be considered private companies but “a state actor” whose actions are constrained by First Amendment restrictions on government limitations on free speech.
Traditionally, the First Amendment constrains only government actions, not those of private companies. The lawsuits also called for the court to strike down Section 230, a decades-old Internet law that protects tech companies from lawsuits over content moderation decisions.
“Today in conjunction with the America First Policy Institute, I’m filing as the lead class representative, a major class action lawsuit against the big tech giants, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter, as well as their CEOs, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey, three real nice guys,” Trump said during a press conference in New Jersey. “We’re asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to order an immediate halt to social media companies’ illegal, shameful censorship of the American people, and that’s exactly what they are doing.”
“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. Our case will prove this censorship is unlawful, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s completely un-American,” Trump claimed. “Our filing also seeks injunctive relief to allow prompt restitution and really restoration, and you can name about 20 other things, and it has to be prompt because it’s destroying our country. Of my accounts, in addition, we are asking the court to impose punitive damages on these social media giants. We’re going to hold big tech very accountable. This is the first of numerous other lawsuits, I assume, that would follow. But this is the lead and I think it’s going to be a very, very important game changer for our country. It will be a pivotal battle in the defense of the First Amendment. And in the end, I am confident that we will achieve a historic victory for American freedom, and at the same time freedom of speech.”
“While the social media companies are officially private entities, in recent years they have ceased to be private with the enactment and their historical use of section 230, which profoundly protects them from liability,” Trump later added. “Once they got section 230, they’re not private companies anymore in a lot of views. No other companies in our country, and even in our country’s history, have had protection like this. It’s, in effect, a massive government subsidy. These companies have been co-opted, coerced, and weaponized by government and by government actors to become the [enforcers] of illegal, unconstitutional censorship. And that’s what it is at the highest level, censorship.”