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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Judge dismisses Trump’s lawsuit challenging Twitter ban

Los Angeles –

A San Francisco judge has dismissed the lawsuit of former US President Donald Trump challenging his permanent ban from Twitter.

US District Judge James Donato said on Friday that Trump failed to show that Twitter violated his First Amendment right to freedom of expression. The right to freedom of speech does not apply to private companies, and Trump has failed to show that Twitter is acting as a state actor on behalf of the Democrats.

“The amended complaint offers only a grab of the allegations to the effect that some Democratic members of Congress wanted Mr Trump, and that the ‘views he saw’ were banned from Twitter because of such ‘content and ‘views’ were the opposite. The preferred viewpoints of those legislators,” Donato wrote. “But the comments of some elected officials are far from ‘rules of decision for which the state is responsible’. Legislators are completely free to express their opinion without being considered the official voice of the ‘state’.

Trump sued Twitter, Facebook and Google’s YouTube in July 2021, claiming they illegally censored them.

Platforms suspended Trump following the January 6, 2021 uprising, in which his followers violently stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to prevent Congress from authenticating Joe Biden’s presidential victory. The companies cited concerns that it would incite further violence.

The ruling comes as Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, is in the process of buying Twitter for US$44 billion. The deal has raised questions about whether Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, will reinstate the former president.

Trump, who continues to repeat lies about his 2020 election defeat in speeches, has started his own social network, Truth Social. He said last week that he would not join Twitter again if given a chance.

The suit sought to reinstate Trump’s account, which had nearly 89 million followers, and five others who claimed he was also censored by Twitter. The group had sought unspecified damages and class action status on behalf of others removed from the platform.

Legal experts predicted the trial would fail, but suggested Trump would use it for political purposes. Trump’s Political Action Committee immediately began raising funds after the lawsuit was announced last year.

The lawsuit also sought to declare that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 was unconstitutional.

The act states that providers such as Twitter can moderate services by removing obscene posts that violate their standards and cannot be held responsible for content posted by others.

Donato said Trump had only shown a “vague and speculative allegation” that he believed Twitter would not have been banned if it had not been granted immunity by Section 230.

Donato gave Trump another chance to amend his complaint. Trump’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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