Former President Donald Trump, who has been banned from most major social media platforms, announced a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against tech giants Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, along with their respective CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai.
The lawsuit represents the latest development in the blowup between Trump and Big Tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter regarding censorship and content moderation.
For his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Facebook banned Trump from the platform until at least January 2023, Twitter permanently banned him, and YouTube, which is owned by Google, indefinitely banned him.
The suit is being filed by America First Policy Institute, a nonprofit group focused on aiding Trump’s policies. The organization confirmed to the Washington Examiner that it was helping Trump’s legal effort.
The class-action lawsuits will allow Trump to represent a larger group of affected people that he says have been unfairly censored by problematic content moderation policies.
“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,” Trump said at a news conference at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course.
“Through this lawsuit, we are standing up for the freedom of speech of all Americans — Republicans, Democrats, independents, everyone,” he added.
The suits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. However, Facebook’s terms of service require that “any claim, cause of action, or dispute you have against us” be filed exclusively in federal court in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California or a state court located in San Mateo County.
The First Amendment’s freedom of speech protections do not apply to private organizations and platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, meaning that Trump’s lawsuit is unlikely to succeed in court.
Last week, a federal court blocked a controversial Florida social media law from going into effect, saying that forcing online platforms to host political speech violates the First Amendment. Nevertheless, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will appeal the ruling.
Trump’s class-action lawsuits ask the court to force the social media platforms to allow Trump back on their websites. They also seek to overturn and make unconstitutional Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, the controversial law that gives online platforms legal immunity for third-party content.
However, Trump said Wednesday that he wasn’t sure he would return to the platforms even if they allowed him back.
Although Trump’s voice online has been muzzled thanks to the bans imposed over his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, many of his statements, especially regarding the 2020 election, have continued to spread far and wide on social media.