A federal judge in San Francisco threw out the lawsuit filed by former President Donald Trump against Twitter on Friday. While the case against Twitter can be appealed or amended, Trump’s lawsuit against Facebook and YouTube is still pending. Trump is challenging the constitutionality of being banned or limited from the social media platforms following January 2, 2021, Capitol Hill uprising.
Trump’s lawyers contend that the social media giants violate the First Amendment since they are acting as government agents in his suspension from their platforms. US District Court Judge James Donato in his 17-page ruling disagreed that Twitter violated the First Amendment or Trump’s personal rights by banning him. He said the legislation regulating social media does not account for the powers of the platforms to limit or ban any users.
“There is no way to allege with any degree of plausibility when, if ever, the comments voiced by a handful of members of Congress might become a law, or what changes such a law might impose on social media companies like Twitter,” the judge said. “Much of what plaintiffs challenge fits within the normal boundaries of a congressional investigation, as opposed to threats of punitive state action.”
When Trump’s attorneys argued that Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act empowered the social media platforms to limit the former president’s activities or even ban him, Donato said the controversial law empowers social media sites to oversee posts and message boards without necessarily taking responsibility for those posts.
The judge said that since Section 230 does not warrant any affirmative obligations on Twitter, the microblogging platform cannot be said to be acting in a way consistent with the government’s wishes.
“The government cannot plausibly be said to have compelled Twitter’s action through Section 230, which in any event imposed no affirmative obligations on Twitter to act in any particular way,” the judge wrote.
Trump’s cases against Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter were instituted in South Florida, but the courts agreed for the lawsuits to be moved to Northern California because the terms and conditions of the social media platforms agree to such an arrangement.