Trump alleges censorship of conservatives in lawsuit against tech giants

Former President Donald Trump announced class-action lawsuits Wednesday against three tech giants for censorship of conservatives. 

Trump indicates that Facebook, Twitter and Google are violating his First Amendment rights. But it appears that he's trying to rally his base by standing on a very shaky legal ground. 

"Our case will prove that this censorship is unlawful," Trump said after the filing of the suits.

After Trump encouraged his supporters to invade the U.S. Capitol on January 6, his social media accounts were suspended to that day. The internet companies said they feared that Trump would incite further violence and continue to falsely state that the election was rigged.

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"We're demanding an end to the shadow banning, a stop to the silencing, a stop to the blacklisting, banning, and canceling that you know so well," said the former president.

David Greene, civil liberties director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, "He's bringing a case that has a really, really long shot of any success." 

"The arguments are not persuasive at all", said Professor Eric Goldman of Santa Clara University's School of Law in Silicon Valley. Adding, "He uses lawsuits to achieve many goals that have nothing to do with the outcome in court." 

That often includes bullying, gaining an unfair advantage in not paying contractors, rallying political support, or fighting against internet giants and big tech. For this particular lawsuit, Professor Goldman said, "There already have been fundraising e-mails to his audience encouraging them to contribute to his legal fight."

But federal law specifically allows social media platforms to remove postings that violate their platforms' standards, including obscenity, promoting violence, and making clear falsehoods. Trump argues that "It's unconstitutional and it's completely un-American."

Greene, the ACLU lawyer, disagrees, "None of these legal arguments are new. There have been many, many cases by people less famous and all of those cases have lost. These legal arguments have all been rejected." 

Unlike the government, these private companies are not accountable to the First Amendment. Goldman explained, "When private internet companies exercise their editorial discretion, they're actually taking advantage of their own First Amendment-protected rights." 

Added Greene, "To decide what they want on their sites and to have rules for their sites about what's acceptable content and not acceptable content."

Professor Goldman says what Trump could not accomplish as President, will not succeed here.

"He has no chance of creating new law. He has no chance of winning," Goldman said.

But it may not matter to Trump since it appears the lawsuits are about fundraising. Moments after his announcement, supporters received a text, asking for donations.