Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit against tech giants Google, Twitter and Facebook, claiming that he is the victim of censorship.
The class action lawsuit also targets the three companies’ CEOs.
The former president was suspended from his social accounts in January over public safety concerns in the wake of the Capitol riots, led by his supporters.
On July 7, Donald Trump called the lawsuit “a very beautiful development for our freedom of speech”.
In a news conference from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, Donald Trump railed against social media companies and Democrats, who he accused of espousing misinformation.
He said: “We are demanding an end to the shadow-banning, a stop to the silencing, and a stop to the blacklisting, banishing, and cancelling that you know so well.”
The suit requests a court order to end alleged censorship. Donald Trump added if they could ban a president, “they can do it to anyone”.
None of the tech companies named have yet responded to the lawsuit, which was filed to a federal court in Florida.
Donald Trump was joined at the announcement by former Trump officials who have since created the not-for-profit America First Policy Institute.
The former president called the post that got him banned from Twitter, “the most loving sentence”.
According to Twitter, the tweets that resulted in Donald Trump’s ban for “glorification of violence” were from 8 January, two days after the rioting in the nation’s capital. The riot followed his repeated claims, without evidence, that the election was rigged in Joe Biden’s favor.
Donald Trump wrote that the “great patriots” who voted for him will have “a giant voice” and “will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form”, and in another post said he would not attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
At the same time on July 7, Donald Trump’s Republican allies in Congress released a memo describing their plan “to take on Big Tech”.
The agenda calls for antitrust measures to “break up” the companies, and a revamping of a law known as Section 230.
Section 230, which Donald Trump tried to repeal as president, essentially stops companies like Facebook and Twitter from being liable for the things that users post. It gives the companies “platform” rather than “publisher” status.
“It’s a liability protection the likes of which nobody in the history of our country has ever received,” he said, criticizing the law on July 7.
Donald Trump added that the law invalidates the companies’ statuses as private companies.
The lawsuit has been criticized by legal experts, who pointed to Donald Trump’s habit of issuing lawsuits for media attention but not aggressively defending the claims in court. His argument of free speech infringement has also been questioned by analysts, as the companies he accuses have those same First Amendment protections in determining content on their sites.
President Donald Trump has been permanently suspended from Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”, the platform announces.
It said the decision was made “after close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account”.
The move comes amid a Big Tech purge of the online platforms used by President Trump and his supporters.
Some lawmakers and celebrities have been calling for years on Twitter to ban President Trump altogether.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted on January 7 that the Silicon Valley giants should stop enabling President Trump’s “monstrous behavior” and permanently expel him.
Donald Trump was locked out of his account for 12 hours on January 6 after he called the people who stormed the Capitol “patriots”.
Hundreds of the president’s supporters entered the complex as the Congress attempted to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. The ensuing violence led to the deaths of four civilians and a police officer.
Twitter warned then that it would ban President Trump “permanently” if he breached the platform’s rules again.
After being allowed back on Twitter, Donald Trump posted two tweets on January 8 that the company cited as the final straws.
In one, the president wrote: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
Twitter said this tweet “is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an ‘orderly transition'”.
In the next, he tweeted: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Twitter said this was “being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate”.
Twitter said both of these tweets were “in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy”.
After Twitter had permanently suspended his @realDonaldTrump account, Donald Trump tweeted from the US president’s official @Potus account suggesting he would “look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the future” and railing against Twitter.
The tweets were removed from the platform as soon as they were posted.
On January 8, Twitter permanently banned the account of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and two Trump loyalists: former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell.
Later in the day, Google suspended Parler – a self-styled “free speech” rival to Twitter that is increasingly popular with Trump supporters – from its online store.
The company said: “We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the US.”
On January 7, Facebook said it had suspended President Trump “indefinitely”. The popular gaming platform Twitch also placed an indefinite ban on the outgoing president’s channel, which he has used for rally broadcasts. So has Snapchat.
Two online Trump memorabilia stores were closed this week by e-commerce company Shopify. On January 8, Reddit banned its “donaldtrump” forum for the president’s supporters.
Donald Trump used Twitter to insult adversaries, cheer allies, fire officials, deny “fake news” and vent grievances, often using all capital letters and exclamation marks to underline his point.
Though critics said the posts were a torrent of misinformation, the medium helped him get around media filters and instantly connect with nearly 89 million followers.
Donald Trump’s tweets were also known for the occasional spelling error, and he sometimes left followers guessing with apparent mis-types, such as when he posted: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”
In 2017, the Department of Justice said that President Trump’s tweets were “official statements of the President of the United States”.
However, Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert, who had appeared earlier on the same ABC program, said: “No-one would perceive that as a threat.”
The clip was submitted to a Donald Trump forum on the social media site Reddit four days ago, where it became one of the most popular posts.
After Donald Trump’s tweets, Reddit users expressed disbelief at the president’s use of the clip.
It was also re-tweeted by the official presidential Twitter account, @POTUS, operated by the White House.
Donald Trump has repeatedly clashed with CNN, which he calls “fake news”.
CNN’s top White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who has been critical of the White House’s attitude to the press, simply tweeted: “Isn’t pro wrestling fake?”
Meanwhile, the CNN Communications team tweeted a seemingly sarcastic response quoting White House press officer Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said on June 29: “The President in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary.”
In a later statement, CNN said: “Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied… [he is] involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of this office.”
“We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”
President Trump’s unusual tweet comes a day after he said his use of social media “is not Presidential – it’s modern day presidential.”
On June 29, the president launched an attack on MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. His tweets were condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Donald Trump has an entry in the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame for his appearance in the franchise a decade ago.
In 2007, franchise owner Vince McMahon challenged Donald Trump to a so-called “Battle of the Billionaires” at a Wrestlemania event, with a wager that the loser would have their head shaved.
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