Former President Donald Trump has launched class-action lawsuits against Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg, the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook, respectively, in retaliation for his bans from their platforms.
The former president made the announcement at a press conference on Thursday morning. The lawsuits focus on what Mr Trump alleges is a pattern of bias against his supporters on the platforms.
“These companies have been coopted, coerced, and weaponized by government and by government actors to become the enforcers of illegal, unconstitutional censorship,” Mr Trump charged.
“That’s what it is, censorship,” he continued.
His lawsuits went on to accuse the companies of a pattern of arbitrary censorship against users “for no reason at all.”
“While Facebook’s censoring of Plaintiff was the most widely publicized action taken by Defendants, countless other Putative Class Members have had their views or content similarly deplatformed or censored by Defendants for arbitrary reasons or no reason at all,” reads the lawsuit against Facebook.
At his press conference, Mr Trump also resumed his longstanding criticism of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields internet providers and social media companies from liability over posts made by users of their platforms.
"We are going to look so closely and make sure that the liability protections they have under Section 230 [are] at a very minimum changed and at a maximum taken away,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump was banned from both Facebook and Twitter following the attack on the US Capitol earlier this year, during which thousands of his supporters descended upon the building, overwhelmed law enforcement, and sought to stop the certification of his 2020 election defeat.
An oversight board at Facebook reassessed Mr Trump’s ban as recently as last month, and ruled at the time that it would be extended for at least two years.
Conservatives have long raised allegations of “shadowbanning” and censorship by moderators of major social media platforms, largely without any evidence other than pointing to actions the companies have taken against bad actors. The companies also came under criticism from the right last year for banning misinformation related to the Covid-19 pandemic on their platforms.
Representatives for Facebook did not immediately respond to an email from The Independent regarding the lawsuit, while a Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.
Officials at the two social media giants have insisted that the former president presents a danger to the public if allowed back on the platforms, citing the violence incited by his false claims about the 2020 election thus far.
"We know today’s decision will be criticized by many people on opposing sides of the political divide – but our job is to make a decision in as proportionate, fair and transparent a way as possible, in keeping with the instruction given to us by the Oversight Board,” Facebook’s Nick Clegg said in June upon the decision to continue Mr Trump’s ban.
“They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win. Our Country can’t take this abuse anymore!” Mr Trump said at the time in response.
The former president moved to launch his own blog earlier this year, titled “From the Desk of Donald Trump,” as a means of getting his message out but later shut down the blog, reportedly over concerns about its low traffic.
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