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Former President Donald Trump is filing a major class action lawsuit against Facebook, Google, Twitter, and their CEOs — who he calls “three real nice guys” — for violating the First Amendment. But it could be just another chance for Trump to keep grifting via fundraisers.
“I stand before you this morning to announce a very important and very beautiful, I think, development for our freedom and our freedom of speech — and that goes to all Americans,” Trump, who has been banned from Twitter and Facebook, said in a press conference on Wednesday. “Today in conjunction with the American First Policy Institute, I am filing, as the lead class representative, a major class-action lawsuit against the Big Tech giants including Facebook, Google, and Twitter as well as their CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey.”
Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and a Twitter spokesperson declined to comment. But NetChoice, a trade group both Facebook and Google are members of, said in a statement that they not only oppose Trump’s decision to sue, but cannot see a way forward for him in the courts.
“President Trump has no case,” NetChoice CEO Steve DelBianco said in a statement. “The First Amendment protects Americans and our media from government control. Mr. Trump’s mistaken view of the First Amendment would empower the government to direct, mandate, and ban political speech on the internet.”
Trump claims that he is the victim of censorship, but it’s important to remember just why he was removed from the platforms: for inciting violence. Facebook and Twitter deplatformed the former president in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, which left five people dead and more injuredwhich left five people dead and more injured.
This whole suit reeks of a fundraising grift. Moments after he announced the suit, supporters received a text asking them to donatereceived a text asking them to donate. According to Reuters reporter Brad Heath, the former President’s Facebook lawsuit is filed in federal court in Florida, but Facebook’s terms of service requires that all disputes have to be filed federally in northern California or in San Mateo County state court.
Moreover, the courts have been clear, time and time again, that tech companies can’t be sued for censorship.
“Courts have held social media companies are not state actors, and hence can’t be sued for ‘censorship’ or other First Amendment violations,” Timothy Zick, a professor of law at the William & Mary School of Law, author of The First Amendment in the Trump EraThe First Amendment in the Trump Era told Mashable, “There are ongoing debates, of course, about whether the social media platforms should be treated as common carriers, lose their federal law immunity, or otherwise be subject to regulation. But this looks like a publicity stunt from a former president who has lost access to social media platforms because he failed to abide by private companies’ terms of service.”
David Greene, the civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group, agrees. In a statement to Mashable, Greene said that courts around the nation have “recognized that social media platforms have First Amendment rights to curate their sites and decide for themselves what to publish. This shields them from government manipulation, and from being forced to privilege some speakers over everyday internet users.” He added that while the EFF has concerns about the power Big Tech has over global discourse, human rights, and the silencing of marginalized people, “these lawsuits will not solve that problem and they will further prevent social media platforms from serving their users by filtering out abusive and harassing content.”
When a reporter asked Trump at his press conference if he would rejoin the platforms if they allowed him to, he said he doesn’t know but that he “might not.” We hope not.
UPDATE: July 7, 2021, 3:15 p.m. EDT Updated with comments from the EFF.
ที่มา : Mashable