Former president Donald Trump said he is suing Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube, as well as their respective chief executives, in lawsuits alleging “unlawful censorship” of Americans.
Trump said on Wednesday that he would lead class actions against chief executives Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai, as well their Big Tech platforms.
“We’re asking the US district court for the southern district of Florida to order an immediate halt to social media companies’ illegal shameful censorship of the American people,” he said, adding that he was also asking the court to impose punitive damages.
“It will be a pivotal battle in the defence of the First Amendment. And in the end, I’m confident that we will achieve a historic victory for American freedom and at the same time, freedom of speech,” Trump said.
Twitter banned Trump from its platform permanently in the wake of the storming of Capitol Hill on January 6, citing repeated violations of its moderation policies and the risk that he could use it to incite further violence.
Facebook has banned Trump for at least two years on similar grounds, while Google’s YouTube has indefinitely suspended his account.
The moves have deprived the former president of vital mouthpieces he used to broadcast compulsively to his tens of millions of followers, excoriating his enemies, praising his allies and repeating baseless allegations of election fraud by his Democratic opponents over the 2020 election.
Throughout his presidency, Trump and many of his Republican allies argued that the Big Tech platforms were biased against conservatives, while leftwing critics of the platforms said that they failed to do enough to police hate speech.
The legal effort announced on Wednesday is supported by America First Policy Institute, a non-profit dedicated to promoting his policies. Trump said the litigation would be a “very, very important game changer for our country”.
Since the social media bans, Trump has struggled to cultivate similar online clout elsewhere. In May, he launched his own blog site — From the Desk of Donald J Trump — only to shut it down less than a month later, reportedly frustrated by a lack of readership. He is also exploring setting up his own social media platform.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.