Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced that he will lead class-action lawsuits against Twitter, Google and Facebook over alleged censorship, declaring that “big tech is out of control” and is functioning as “the de-facto censorship arm of the U.S. government.”
“While the social media companies are officially private entities, in recent years they have ceased to be private with the enactment and their historical use of Section 230, which profoundly protects them from liability,” Trump said as he announced the lawsuits in conjunction with the America First Policy Institute.
“It is in effect a massive government subsidy, these companies have been co-opted, coerced and weaponized by government actors to become the enforcers of illegal, unconstitutional censorship,” Trump added.
Trump was booted from Twitter, Facebook and Google’s YouTube earlier this year after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters. The companies said that his false claims that the presidential election risked future violence. But Trump’s supporters say that the companies are engaging in politically-motivated censorship.
Trump’s suit likely faces an uphill battle, according to experts, who say the First Amendment can’t apply to private companies, even if they do benefit from government policies like Section 230.
“I don’t think the lawsuit has much chance of success because it first and foremost accuses the companies of violating the U.S. Constitution, and the U.S. Constitution only restricts government,” Vanderbilt Law School Professor Brian Fitzpatrick told Fox News. “It does not restrict what private parties can and cannot do.”
Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
In response to Trump’s argument that the companies are essentially public because of Section 230, Fitzpatrick said, “All of us benefit in some way from some law but that does not transform all of us into the government… It has zero chance of success. I think it’s mainly for publicity, it’s not to get real relief in a court.”
But Trump nevertheless warned that the power of social media companies is growing to be too great.
“There is no better evidence that big tech is out of control than the fact that they banned the sitting president of the United States earlier this year,” Trump added. “If they can do it to me they can do it to anyone.”