Thursday, January 20

Will Trump’s demands on big tech succeed? Experts say the chances are slim | Donald trump

Donald Trump may have filed lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, claiming that he and other conservatives have been censored, but legal scholars say his case is likely doomed.

The former president was suspended from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube after the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol for fear it would incite further violence. Trump filed class action lawsuits in Miami federal court Wednesday against the three companies, arguing that these suspensions violated the First Amendment, even though the companies are private and therefore subject to different rules.

“Trump has the first amendment argument exactly wrong,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of the Stern Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University. “The first amendment applies to government censorship or the regulation of speech. It does not prevent private sector corporations from regulating content on their platforms. “

Social media platforms, under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996They may moderate their services as they please, provided they act in “good faith.” The law also generally exempts Internet companies from responsibility for material posted by users.

But Trump and other conservatives have long argued that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have abused that protection and should lose their immunity, or at least have to earn it by satisfying the requirements set by the government.

The three demands ask the court to award unspecified damages, declare Section 230 unconstitutional and restore Trump’s accounts, along with those of the other plaintiffs, a handful of others who have had posts or accounts removed.

Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University in California, has studied more than 60 similar failed lawsuits in recent decades that sought to take on Internet companies for canceling or suspending user accounts. He says Trump’s demands are unlikely to go far.

“They’ve argued for everything under the sun, including the first amendment, and they’re getting nowhere,” Goldman said. “Perhaps he has a trick up his sleeve that will give him an advantage in the dozens of lawsuits before him. I doubt it.”

Goldman said Trump is likely following the lawsuits to get attention. As president, Trump last year signed an executive order challenging Section 230.

“It was always about sending a message to their base that they are fighting on their behalf against the evil tech giants of Silicon Valley,” Goldman said.

As the antitrust battles continue, there have been ongoing discussions about how to address the enormous power and influence of big tech companies on users. But ideas on how exactly to tackle the problem differ widely. Experts say that Trump’s lawsuits don’t actually address many of the antitrust issues at hand.

Facebook, Google and Twitter declined to comment on Wednesday.

“There is an important debate about what kind of obligations the First Amendment can impose on private actors who have so much influence over public discourse, and about how much room for maneuver the First Amendment gives Congress to regulate the activities of those private actors. Said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight Institute of the First Amendment at Columbia University. “But this complaint is unlikely to add much to that debate.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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