Twitter is suing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, seeking to halt his state’s investigation into the Big Tech company’s move to ban President Donald Trump from its platform.
Paxton launched a probe into Big Tech’s apparently coordinated deplatforming of Trump in January.
Twitter is claiming they were “targeted” by Paxton as a form of retaliation for exercising their “First Amendment rights.”
The company’s suit was filed in a California federal court Monday, asking the judge to stop Paxton’s probe.
“The social media giant’s court filings include a request for a temporary restraining order that would keep Paxton and his office from enforcing a demand that seeks documents revealing the company’s internal decision making processes for banning users, among other things,” the Texas Tribune reported Monday.
Paxton sent Twitter a civil investigative demand after the company banned Trump following the breach of the U.S. Capitol. Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook were sent letters from the Republican as well.
“The seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President of the United States and several leading voices not only chills free speech, it wholly silences those whose speech and political beliefs do not align with leaders of Big Tech companies,” Paxton announced on Jan. 13.
Last week, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he’s seeking to outlaw viewpoint discrimination on social media.
“I am joining [state Sen. Bryan Hughes] to announce a bill prohibiting social media companies from censoring viewpoints,” the governor said late Thursday night via Twitter. “Too many social media sites silence conservative speech and ideas and trample free speech. It’s un-American, Un-Texan, & soon to be illegal.”
Texas is not the only state seeking to end viewpoint discrimination from Big Tech.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News host Tucker Carlson last month that he’s looking to protect Floridians’ data privacy, add daily fines to tech companies that deplatform political candidates, and open up a channel for lawsuits against Big Tech from Floridians who’ve been censored over their viewpoint.
“I think they’re we’re going to do three different things,” DeSantis told Carlson. “One is protect Floridian’s data privacy from big tech, which is a huge issue, as you said, protect big tech from interfering in an election. And that may mean you display you deplatform, a candidate you don’t like–two guesses as to which type of candidate big tech wouldn’t like–but it also means doing the algorithms in a way that will suppress stories, or accelerate them to benefit a candidate, that’s effectively an in kind contribution.”
“And then the general protections for deplatforming users and what we’re allowing people to do is bring civil suits under the Florida deceptive and unfair trade practices statute and anti-fraud statute and also allowing the state attorney general to do that as well, if big tech is not applying their terms of service in a in a coherent and principled way, which they almost never do,” the governor added. “So we think that this is something that Floridians want protection from, and I think it’ll end up being a really good first step. I mean, there’s always been the question, what do you do about this, I think a lot of us have thought there was something wrong for a long time. But to just sit back and hope it gets better, that clearly wasn’t going to work. So we’re leading, and I think it’ll be good.”