Ex-President Donald Trump, furious over his ban from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube after inciting a violent insurrection, is launching separate class-action lawsuits against the CEOs of those social media giants, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg, respectively, along with Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Google owns YouTube).
Trump announced the lawsuits at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey on Wednesday in a rambling speech accusing the companies of “shameful censorship” and framing the suits as advocacy for “freedom of speech.”
The ex-president stated that he seeks to have his accounts restored and to collect “punitive damages” through the suits, which are filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
“Through this lawsuit, we are standing up for American democracy,” said Trump, who fought tooth and nail to overturn the will of the voters in the 2020 election by filing countless flimsy lawsuits and eventually encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory on January 6. That event proved to be the final straw for Facebook and Twitter.
Trump’s lawsuit against Zuckerberg is joined by Facebook users who were banned for violating the platform’s rules on spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine. As such, the 44-page filing at one point attempts to legitimize MAGAland’s falsehoods about the pandemic by claiming that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s expertise on COVID-19 was “highly questionable.” Even hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug Trump touted for months as a miracle drug for COVID-19, made an appearance in the filing.
Kate Klonick, an assistant professor of law at St. John’s University (and, full disclosure, a former TPM reporter!) said that Trump’s lawsuit gambit was “ludicrous on its face.”
Klonick, who researches legal issues around internet speech, pointed out that the suits don’t seem to grasp the basic principle of the First Amendment: that it protects against free speech infringement by the government, not bans by private social media companies.
“There’s just a bunch of misunderstandings of really fundamental aspects of the law here,” she told TPM.
Reporters noticed that Trump began fundraising off the lawsuits immediately after they were announced–as did the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The stunt comes after Trump’s efforts to launch his own media platforms flopped spectacularly, including a blog that shut down after 29 days. Then a Twitter knockoff boosted by his allies got hacked and bombarded with Sonic the Hedgehog porn within hours of its launch on Sunday.
Twitter permanently banned Trump “due to the risk of further incitement of violence” several days after the Capitol insurrection.
Facebook has suspended Trump for at least two years for the same reason. The social media giant announced last month that it would review in 2023 whether Trump’s activity on their platform would be “still a serious risk to public safety.”
YouTube suspended Trump’s channel in the aftermath of the insurrection, but the video platform has indicated that the ban may be lifted if the risk of violence his channel could provoke decreases.
Read the lawsuit against Zuckerberg below:
Read the lawsuit against Dorsey below:
Read the lawsuit against Pichai below: