Trump Files Lawsuits Claiming Facebook, Twitter Are “State Actors” Violating His First Amendment Rights

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday filed class-action lawsuits against Facebook, Google, and Twitter, as well as their CEOs, accusing them of being “state actors” that are violating his “First Amendment rights,” The Washington Post reports.

Trump announced the lawsuits during a news conference at his Bedminster, N.J. golf club, where he claimed that the lawsuits would put an “end to the shadowbanning, a stop to the silencing, and a stop to the blacklisting, banishing and canceling that you know so well.”

"While the social media companies are officially private entities, in recent years they have seized to be private with the enactment and their historical use of Section 230, which profoundly protects them from liability," Trump claimed Wednesday. "Once they got Section 230, they're not private companies anymore in a lot of views. No other companies in our country's history have had protection like this. It's in effect a massive government subsidy."

Trump argued that the companies have been “co-opted” by Congress to become the "enforcers of illegal, unconstitutional censorship at the highest level."

"We're going to prove that they are government actors, therefore the First Amendment does apply," said his attorney John Coale.

Suit not likely to go anywhere:

The claim that social media companies are “state actors” has repeatedly been rejected by courts.

The First Amendment only protects speech from the government, not private companies.

The lawsuits also argue that Section 230, which shields platforms from liability for user-generated content on their sites if they take steps to moderate speech, is unconditional, even though it has withstood court challenges for over two decades.

Trump said he is seeking changes to Section 230, the restoration of his accounts after the platforms banned him in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot, and unspecified punitive damages that he dubiously claimed could total in the “trillions of dollars.”

That’s not how the First Amendment works:

Legal experts roundly rejected Trump’s arguments.

Trump is “playing a standard media game. It fits into a broader pattern of the former president bringing lawsuits and then not vigorously pursuing them,” Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University Law School, told the Post. “There’s no way a plaintiff has been able to get traction in the past, and there’s no way that Trump is going to be able to get traction either.”

Paul Barret, the deputy director of the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, said the lawsuits were dead on arrival.

“Trump has the First Amendment argument exactly wrong,” he said. "In fact, Facebook and Twitter themselves have a First Amendment free speech right to determine what speech their platforms project and amplify — and that right includes excluding speakers who incite violence, as Trump did in connection with the January 6 Capitol insurrection.”


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