Trump sues Facebook, Twitter over account ban after January 6 attack

Former President Trump is suing Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for banning his accounts, arguing in remarks on Wednesday that they have violated his First Amendment right to free speech in “illegal, unconstitutional censorship.”

Mr. Trump was banned from the Twitter and Facebook after a mob of his supporters overran the Capitol in a deadly attack on January 6, with the companies citing concerns that he would encourage more violence.

“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,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday. “I am confident that we will achieve a historic victory for American freedom and at the same time freedom of speech.”

In complaints filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Mr. Trump asked the court to overturn Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media companies from liability for content posted on their platforms, and restore his accounts on Twitter and Facebook, as well as his channel on YouTube. He’s also asking the court to prevent Twitter, Facebook and YouTube from “exercising censorship, editorial control or prior restraint in its many forms” over the posts and uploads of the presidents.

The Facebook Oversight Board upheld the initial suspension of Mr. Trump’s account in May, and announced in June that it would ban the former president from its platform for at least two years.

Mr. Trump’s accounts were banned after Twitter and Facebook found that his posts encouraged the attack on the Capitol. In a video posted to Facebook on January 6, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that the presidential election had been stolen from him as rioters overran the building seeking to overturn the election results.

He later posted to both Twitter and Facebook that “these are the things that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.” 

Within minutes, Facebook also took down the post from Mr. Trump’s account and initially blocked him from posting for 24 hours before suspending him indefinitely.

Although his online influence has been diminished, Mr. Trump has continued to spread falsehoods about the election, which are also promoted by many Republican lawmakers. A former spokesperson for Mr. Trump also recently launched a new social media site called “GETTR,” advertised as an alternative to the major platforms.