Former President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he is suing Facebook, Twitter, and Google, along with each company’s CEO.
The class action suits accuse the companies of wrongful censorship.
“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 Wednesday morning news conference. “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.”
The former president is currently unable to post on Twitter and Facebook. The sites suspended him following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, citing concerns Trump would incite further violence.
The suits argue banning or suspending Trump is a violation of the First Amendment, despite the fact that the companies are private.
The suit against Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook acted unconstitutionally when it removed Trump from the platform. Suits against Twitter and YouTube make similar claims.
All three ask the court to award unspecified damages, declare Section 230 unconstitutional and restore Trump’s accounts, along with a handful of others who have all had posts or accounts removed.
Under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, internet companies aren’t liable for the material that users post. The law also allows social media sites to moderate their services by removing posts that are obscene or violate the services’ own standards, as long as they are acting in “good faith.”
Trump and other politicians say social media companies have abused that protection and should lose their immunity or have to earn it by satisfying requirements set by the government.
According to Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, Trump’s lawsuits are likely to fail. Goldman has studied more than 60 failed lawsuits over the past few decades that sought to take on internet companies for terminating or suspending users’ accounts.
“They’ve argued everything under the sun, including First Amendment, and they get nowhere,” Goldman said. “Maybe he’s got a trick up his sleeve that will give him a leg up on the dozens of lawsuits before him. I doubt it.”