What’s going on between Trump, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey? Well, Trump is suing Big Tech — namely Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. That’s three-fifths of The Big Five. Are we surprised? This lawsuit is the culmination of years of rifts between the former president and social media platforms. Trump has consistently called censorship and violation of free speech. Now, he’s taking it to the courts. This news also comes in the wake of lawmakers recently targeting The Big Five with “antitrust” legislation. So, what does this mean for social media?
When Trump was banned from Twitter
The lawsuit was brought on by Trump being banned from social media platforms, his main form of communication to the public. His Twitter account was permanently suspended in January 2021 — immediately following the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6. — “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” After his personal account was suspended, he tweeted from the @POTUS account.
“As I have been saying for a long time, Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech, and tonight, Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me — and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me.”Trump on @POTUS
When Trump was banned from Facebook
Trump was also banned from Facebook in January. But in June 2021, Facebook announced its Oversight Committee decided to ban Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts for two years. “We considered the need for it to be long enough to allow a safe period of time after the acts of incitement, to be significant enough to be a deterrent to Mr. Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future,” Facebook’s VP of global affairs Nick Clegg stated.
Besides having his accounts banned, why is Trump suing Big Tech? In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, Trump laid out his case, stating these platforms limit free speech and “blocking the free flow of information on which our democracy depends.” It’s a class-action lawsuit, which means he is representing a group of people.
“If they can do it to me, they can do it to you—and believe me, they are.”
He also brought up the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which includes the heavily debated Section 230. This legislation was meant to protect the platform owners, so they wouldn’t be held liable for harmful content posted by users. But platforms have been increasingly called to act as publishers responsible for removing certain content or labeling it as “misinformation,” etc.
Some people believe the lawsuit won’t get anywhere. But it will bring up more conversations about the role of social media platforms as publishers vs. platforms. So, keep an eye on the legal proceedings!