Former President Donald Trump has initiated a lawsuit against social media giant Facebook to demand the reinstatement of his accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Trump’s social media accounts were suspended from both major platforms, alongside Twitter, following the Capitol Hill riot on Jan 6.
Trump’s new lawsuit against Facebook to lift the suspension of his accounts comes amid a class-action lawsuit he filed against Facebook, Twitter, and Google, as well as each company’s CEO, over the bans of his accounts.
On Thursday, Trump’s lawyers filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, petitioning for the judge to issue a preliminary injunction against Facebook to reinstate his Facebook and Instagram accounts, which have a combined following of around 59 million users.
“This preliminary injunction against Facebook seems appropriate to file this week since they’ve been big in the news lately for all the issues they’re facing,” Trump attorney John Coale said in an interview with the Washington Examiner.
“Zuckerberg and Facebook say it’s the 21st-century public town square; if so, they should uphold the First Amendment,” Coale said, referring to Zuckerberg’s remarks in 2019. “You can’t have it both ways. They’re like a public utility when it comes to speech.”
Trump’s lawsuit argues that by keeping his accounts banned, Facebook is hurting Republicans and their ability to reach out to potential voters in the upcoming midterms and presidential elections.
Trump’s legal team asserts that by “cutting him off from the most effective and direct forms of communication with potential voters,” the social media giant is “threatening irreparable damage to the Republican Party’s prospects in the 2022 and 2024 elections.”
The lawsuit also argues that the former president faces irreparable harm and monetary losses for being cut off from his donors and merchandising platforms. Due to his bans, Trump is unable to communicate his views and endorse local candidates, for whom his endorsement holds weight among Republican voters.
Trump’s crusade against Big Tech has become a far-ranging clarion call for conservatives concerned about free speech and the powers wielded by the de facto gatekeepers of public discourse since his ban in January.
“We’re demanding an end to the shadow banning, a stop to the silencing, and a stop to the blacklisting, banishing, and canceling that you know so well. Our case will prove this censorship is unlawful, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s completely un-American,” Trump said at a press conference in July. “It will be a pivotal battle in the defense of the First Amendment. And in the end, I am confident that we will achieve a historic victory for American freedom, and at the same time freedom of speech.”
“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. “Once they got section 230, they’re not private companies anymore in a lot of views. No other companies in our country, and even in our country’s history, have had protection like this. It’s, in effect, a massive government subsidy. These companies have been co-opted, coerced, and weaponized by government and by government actors to become the [enforcers] of illegal, unconstitutional censorship. And that’s what it is at the highest level, censorship.”