Douglas Andrews / July 8, 2021

Donald Trump Sues Big Tech

In a class action filing against Facebook, Google, and Twitter, the former president hopes to strike a blow for free speech.

Perhaps you’ve heard: Donald Trump is suing Big Tech. We wish him well.

Yesterday, the former president announced that he’ll lead a lawsuit over alleged censorship by Facebook, Google, and Twitter — the three behemoths most responsible for silencing him in the aftermath of last year’s deeply flawed presidential election, an action that removed all doubt that these tech giants should be treated like the agenda-driven publishers they are, rather than the unbiased platforms they falsely profess to be.

“We’re going to hold Big Tech accountable,” Trump said at a news conference.

Recall that each of the three defendants removed Trump from their social media platforms after the unarmed non-insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, which he singlehandedly “incited” when he said to his supporters, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

In announcing his lawsuit, Trump called social media companies “the de facto censorship arm of the U.S. government.” And he’s right. Were it not for their suppression of the Hunter Biden scandal for a full two weeks just prior to the election, Trump might well be six months into his second term, gasoline might well be a dollar less per gallon, and illegal immigrants most certainly wouldn’t be streaming across our now-porous southern border by the tens of thousands.

Trump will be the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit seeking “injunctive relief” against “shameful censorship of the American people.” Said the former president from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey: “I stand before you this morning to announce a very important development for our freedom and freedom of speech. In conjunction with the America First Policy Institute, I’m filing … a major class-action lawsuit against the big tech giants … as well as their CEOs, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey. Three real nice guys.”

For conservatives, any lawsuit against these all-powerful speech-suppressing leftists ought to be welcome news, but the first pundits to weigh in seemed bearish on Trump’s chances for success.

“His argument is completely absurd and will be laughed out of court,” said Reason’s Robby Soave.

“Irredeemably frivolous” was how First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams described Trump’s lawsuit.

And National Review’s Philip Klein blames Trump himself for our current predicament. “As president and leader of the party with majority control of Congress, he had plenty of levers at his disposal to try and target Big Tech,” writes Klein. “He could have gone after them by issuing new regulations or pushing for an anti-trust case against them. … Plenty of supporters who share his anger toward Big Tech were begging him to do something while he had the chance. But he didn’t.”

Yes, of course. In hindsight, it’s all Trump’s fault. All The Deregulating Donald had to do was slap some new regulations on the tech giants. All our nation’s first businessman president had to do was engage in some Rooseveltian trust-busting. Klein’s two-part indictment that Trump should’ve seen the censorship coming and should’ve gone against his pro-business, pro-economy instincts and unilaterally cracked down on them is ludicrous.

Constitutional law professor Alan Dershowitz seemed more optimistic. On Fox News last night, he called this the biggest free speech case of the 21st century, noting that Big Tech is wielding the First Amendment like a sword to suppress the free speech rights of certain Americans and thereby deny them their voice in the marketplace of ideas.

In addition, there’s UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who argues that Big Tech has been doing the bidding of government and may thereby be vulnerable. “It is possible,” he says, “that Mr. Trump could have some success if he could show that the platforms were coerced by government officials into blocking various speech. That might be enough to show the government action needed for a viable First Amendment claim. But it’s a big if.”

An even bigger if, though, would be the survival of free speech in an era of unchecked Big Tech censorship. “If they can do it to me,” Trump said, “they can do it to anyone.”


UPDATE: The Thursday, July 8, issue of the Wall Street Journal includes an op-ed from former President Trump on this topic: Why I’m suing Big Tech. It begins:

“One of the gravest threats to our democracy today is a powerful group of Big Tech corporations that have teamed up with government to censor the free speech of the American people. This is not only wrong—it is unconstitutional. To restore free speech for myself and for every American, I am suing Big Tech to stop it.”

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