Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday he’s filing lawsuits against Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that allege censorship.
The lawsuits come after Trump was banned from major social media platforms earlier in the year. Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube booted Trump in the wake of the deadly US Capitol riot on Jan. 6, citing concerns that he would incite more violence.
Lawsuits alleging censorship and arguing that social media companies violate the First Amendment when they remove posts or ban users have repeatedly been rejected by courts across the country.
During a press conference, Trump said the lawsuits will seek punitive damages and an “immediate halt to social media companies’ illegal, shameful censorship of the American people.” He also cited the platforms’ use of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides legal protections to companies over what gets posted to their sites. The lawsuit is in partnership with the America First Policy Institute. Trump is seeking class action status for the suit. The three separate suits were filed with the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division.
“We’re not looking to settle,” Trump said.
Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Twitter declined to comment.
Twitter permanently banned Trump, while YouTube said it would curtail his suspension when the company determined “the risk of violence has decreased.”
In June, Facebook’s oversight board ruled Trump would be barred from the social network, as well as Instagram, for at least two years. After that period, Facebook will look at whether “violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest” have receded in order to determine if Trump will be allowed to post again.
These tech companies’ decisions to take Trump off their platforms drew criticism from conservatives who say platforms like Facebook and Twitter censor political speech they don’t agree with. Meanwhile, Facebook, Twitter and Google have all said that’s not the case.
Without access to the big name social networks, Trump supporters have been looking at where else they could go. Former Trump senior adviser Jason Miller is reportedly behind a social media app called Gettr . Gettr bills itself as a “non-bias social network for people all over the world.” The app was briefly hacked over the weekend.
This is a developing story.
Joan Solsman contributed to this report.