Trump Takes on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Over Account Censorship

The former president has sued major social media platforms over the suspension of his accounts contending that the censorship constrains free speech. Wednesday’s Southern District of Florida complaints name both companies’ CEOs individually as defendants as well as Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and YouTube LLC themselves.

Former President Trump’s complaint asserts that he used his social media accounts to communicate directly with the American people, reportedly more so than any prior president. He “strategically circumvented what he saw as a mainstream media that was biased against him,” the complaint says.

The filings point to topics relating to the 2020 presidential election and COVID-19, specifically, the former president’s views on and advocacy for the use of hydroxychloroquine to protect against the coronavirus, as content that was allegedly illegally censored by the defendants.

The complaint against Facebook asserts that the company aligned itself with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), “to advance only the narrative that Defendants and Dr. Fauci subscribe to.” The filing contains allegedly reprinted copies of “surreptitious” emails between CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Fauci as proof of the coordination.

The filing also alleges that Democratic legislators “coerced defendants to censor the plaintiff and putative class members” through verbal threats and other measures including subjecting social media company leaders to lengthy and embarrassing public hearings. Further, the complaints accuse the lawmakers of “threatening new regulations, antitrust breakup, and removal of Section 230 immunity for Defendants.”

The complaints each seek relief from alleged free speech violations and a declaration that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is unconstitutional. The filing claims that in addition to censoring viewpoint-based speech, the CDA provision “has turned a handful of private behemoth companies into ‘ministries of truth’ and into the arbiters of what information and viewpoints can and cannot be uttered or heard by hundreds of millions of Americans.”

The former president and putative class seek compensatory and punitive damages and an award of their attorneys’ fees and costs. They also seek declaratory and injunctive relief ordering the defendants to remove content warning labels in the case of Facebook, and reinstating the accounts of former President Trump and the class in the case of both.  

Former President Trump and the putative class are represented by Vargas Gonzalez Baldwin Delombard LLP, John P. Coale, The Dudehefer Law Firm L.L.C., and Ivey, Barnum & O’Mara.