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Facebook and YouTube Join Twitter, Requesting Transfer of Censorship Cases to NDCA

Twitter website on computer screen.

"Muenster, Germany - May 23, 2011: The twitter website is displayed in web browser on a computer screen. Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service and enabling its users to send and read messages."

A group of social media companies and their leaders have asked the Miami, Florida federal court overseeing the cases filed against them by former president Donald Trump and several other social media users to move the lawsuits to the Northern District of California. Twitter Inc. moved to transfer the case pending against it earlier this month on similar grounds, that its terms of service mandate that litigation filed against it take place in the proposed transferee district. 

The July-filed complaints allege that the platforms illegally censored the plaintiffs in violation of federal law and the U.S. Constitution, as previously reported. In Facebook’s filing, the company notes several procedural pitfalls plaguing the lawsuit, including the plaintiffs’ failure to serve either the company or its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

Facebook also recounts how the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint that added two Florida law claims for unfair business practices in addition to its allegations that Facebook and Zuckerberg violated the First Amendment by censoring protected speech. The lawsuit also claims that “Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act incentivized Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg to ‘deplatform’ and ‘censor’ Plaintiffs, and so is unconstitutional,” according to last week’s motion.

Both transfer requests note at their outset that the cases are legally baseless and should be dismissed. They argue that the companies’ terms of service forum selection clauses govern where lawsuits may take place, and that place is the Northern District of California.

Facebook first contends that its mandatory forum-selection clause is valid, explaining that the plaintiffs cannot meet their heavy burden of showing that enforcement would be unreasonable. The claims also fall within the ambit of the clause’s “broad” scope, Facebook asserts. Finally, the motion claims that no extraordinary circumstances justify rejecting the agreement that the plaintiffs entered into when they signed up to use Facebook.

In their motion to transfer venue to the same district, YouTube and defendant Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google LLC, YouTube’s parent company, make similar arguments in favor of transfer based upon YouTube’s term of service and its binding forum selection clause.

Facebook is represented by White & Case LLP and Kirkland & Ellis LLP, YouTube by Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson P.A. and  Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Twitter by Homer Bonner and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

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