Trump, who was suspended from most major social media platforms following the Jan. 6 Capitol incident, filed class-action lawsuits against Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook earlier this year—along with the companies’ respective CEOs.
The filing on Oct. 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida seeks a preliminary injunction on Facebook’s suspension as his earlier lawsuit proceeds.
“The First Amendment rights of [Trump’s] millions of Facebook Users—to receive his messages and to comment to one another thereon—will be irreparably injured as well,” the filing reads. “At the same time, by de-platforming the presumptive head and most popular member of the Republican Party, cutting him off from the most effective and direct forms of communication with potential voters, Defendant is threatening irreparable damage to the Republican Party’s prospects in the 2022 and 2024 elections.”
His lawyers argued that the United States doesn’t gain “from attempts to suppress political speech,” while adding that those who are “antagonistic to [Trump’s] views are not well-served by attempts to silence him.”
On Facebook and Instagram, the former president had amassed tens of millions of followers. Trump, however, used Twitter far more often, using the platform with great effectiveness during his 2016 campaign.
“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,” John Coale, lead counsel of the Trump lawsuits, said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. Coale was referring to a whistleblower’s testimony in Congress on Oct. 5 about Facebook’s policies, while Facebook and affiliated companies Instagram and WhatsApp suffered an hours-long outage a day before.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg “and Facebook say it’s the 21st-century public town square; if so, they should uphold the First Amendment,” Coale said, referring to a comment Zuckerberg made several years ago on his platform. “You can’t have it both ways. They’re like a public utility when it comes to speech.”
The lawsuit follows legal action Trump took against Twitter last week, arguing that Twitter and CEO Jack Dorsey should reinstate his account. His lawyers said the Twitter suspension also violates a recent law that was passed in Florida targeting social media censorship.
Trump’s lawyers said (pdf) that Twitter “exercises a degree of power and control over political discourse in this country that is immeasurable, historically unprecedented, and profoundly dangerous to open democratic debate.”
Furthermore, the suspension will impact the 2022 midterm elections if Trump’s account isn’t reinstated, including merchandising platforms as well as the ability to communicate his views, endorsements, and other content.
Both Twitter and Facebook said that Trump was suspended following the Jan. 6 breach because he allegedly incited violence and violated the two firms’ terms of service. However, the ban has fueled arguments that Big Tech is moving in unison to silence conservative viewpoints.
Facebook’s Oversight Board found that two posts made by Trump on Jan. 6 allegedly “severely violated” the firm’s content moderation standards.
In Trump’s original July lawsuit against Facebook, the former commander-in-chief represented a larger group of people who said they were unfairly censored by the platform.
“Big Tech companies are being used to impose illegal and unconstitutional government censorship,” the lawsuit alleged, while claiming that Democrats in Congress are attempting to publicly pressure “platforms into censoring their political opponents.”
The Epoch Times has contacted Facebook for comment.