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Trump launches class action lawsuit against Big Tech giants

Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump announced class action lawsuits Wednesday against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the leaders of three Big Tech companies that banned him from their platforms after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building.

Speaking at a news conference at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Wednesday morning, Trump said he would be the lead plaintiff in the class action suit filed in partnership with the America First Policy Institute, a new nonprofit think-tank that advocates for Trump's policies. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

"I stand before you this morning to announce a very important and very beautiful, I think, development for our freedom and our freedom of speech ... today, in conjunction with the America First Policy Institute, I'm filing as the lead class action representative a major class action lawsuit against the Big Tech giants including Facebook, Google and Twitter, as well as their CEOs," Trump said.

The lawsuit seeks a court order to immediately halt social media platforms "illegal, shameful, censorship of the American people." The former president is demanding an end to shadow-banning, blacklisting, and canceling of conservatives by Big Tech companies.

"Our case will prove this censorship is unlawful, it's unconstitutional, and it's completely un-American," Trump said.

In January, after a mob of Trump supporters gathered at the U.S. Capitol and got into violent altercations with police officers, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube — which is owned by Google — each announced that Trump would no longer be able to use their platforms. The tech companies claimed that Trump's repeated insistence that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and that President Joe Biden's victory was illegitimate incited the violence at the Capitol.

Twitter permanently banned Trump, citing the "risk of further incitement of violence" by his account, while Facebook indefinitely deplatformed the sitting president. After Facebook's Oversight Board criticized the company for imposing an arbitrary punishment on Trump, the company clarified that Trump will remain deplatformed through Jan. 7, 2023, at least. Trump's YouTube channel remains indefinitely suspended until there is no longer a "risk of incitement to violence."

"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 told the gathered reporters. "If they can do it to me, they can do it to anyone."

First reported by Axios, Trump's lawsuit will also seek the immediate restoration of his social media accounts and "punitive damages" on the Big Tech giants.

The lawsuits also target the liability protections Big Tech companies enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

"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. "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."

The former president accused social media companies of coordinating with federal public health officials during the pandemic to censor certain speech. Trump pointed to policies that banned users for sharing "misinformation" about COVID-19, such as opinions that raised questions about the origins of the virus and whether it was leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Big Tech companies became "the de-facto censorship arm of the U.S. government," Trump said.

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