Federal judge overturns Trump’s ‘Short of the Mark’ Twitter lawsuit

A federal judge in San Francisco has ended Donald Trump’s crusade against Twitter, ruling on Friday that the twice-impeached former president’s claims that the social media giant violated his First Amendment rights were essentially BS .

In a 17-page order issued on Friday, U.S. District Judge James Donato upheld the company’s decision in January 2021 to expel the former president from its services to prevent him from further inciting his supporters to violently oppose the results of the 2020 election. Twitter therefore has no obligation to allow Trump to return to the platform.

Last year, Trump sued Twitter after he was permanently suspended from tweeting for breaking the app’s rules against “glorifying violence” with tweets widely seen as fanning the flames in the wake of the deadly May 6 riot. January at the Capitol. After launching his own Twitter clone, the floundering Truth Social, Trump said in an interview that he would not return to Twitter even if the ban was lifted by new owner Elon Musk.

“I was disappointed with the way I was treated by Twitter,” Trump told CNBC. “I will not return to Twitter.”

In dismissing Trump’s complaint, which was filed with the American Conservative Union and five individual users, including anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorists Naomi Wolf and Wayne Allyn Root, Donato demolished each of the ex-commander’s arguments by leader one by one.

“Plaintiffs’ primary claim is that Defendants ‘redacted[ed]’Plaintiffs’ Twitter accounts in violation of their right to free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,’ Donato wrote in the order. “Complainants are not starting from a position of strength.”

Simply put, the First Amendment “applies only to government speech shortcuts, not to shortcuts claimed by private companies,” the order explains, noting that Twitter “is a private company.” An amended complaint filed by Trump “simply offers a bag of allegations that certain Democratic members of Congress wanted Mr. Trump, and ‘the views he espoused,’ banned from Twitter,” the order continues, “because that these “contents and views” were “contrary to the preferred views of these legislators”.

But even as some lawmakers, such as Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), have spoken out against Trump’s rude and potentially dangerous online behavior, then the senator. Kamala Harris called on Twitter to suspend Trump’s account, Donato pointed out that public officials are “perfectly free to express opinions without being considered the official voice of ‘the state’. Government in our elected republic would be impossible otherwise.

Donato judged Trump’s position to be “below the mark”, even giving him “the benefit of the doubt”. Moreover, Donato wrote, the case citations cited by Trump’s lawyers succeeded in undermining their own arguments.

In his original complaint, Trump also claimed that Section 230, a law that protects online platforms such as Twitter from lawsuits for user-posted content, is unconstitutional. As president, Trump launched an all-out assault on Section 230 in an effort to counter Twitter’s supposed “leftist bias.” Trump’s account had nearly 90 million followers before the ban.

“Trump’s attacks on Section 230 follow a familiar pattern: they always seem to follow light perception by social media companies,” the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation said in December 2020.

In his lawsuit, Trump claimed to have “examples of Democratic lawmakers threatening new regulations, antitrust breaches, and stripping Section 230 immunity for defendants and other social media platforms if Twitter did not censor the views and content with which those members of Congress disagreed”. However, Donato wrote on Friday, “Actual quotes do not match this billing.”

“The plaintiffs offer only the vague and speculative allegation that ‘[u]According to the information and the belief, the defendants would not have downgraded the plaintiff or the alleged class members in a similar situation without the immunity allegedly afforded by section 230(c),” the decision states. “Why this might be plausible is not said. The Court declines to accept such speculative and conclusive allegations as grounds for a motion for declaratory judgment. »

Donato also rejected Trump’s attempt to hold Twitter responsible for allegedly violating Florida’s deceptive and unfair marketing practices law. But although Trump lives in Florida, he and the others agreed long ago, “in accordance with Twitter’s Terms of Service (TOS), that California law shall govern all disputes that arise between Twitter and its users,” he said. Donato writes, adding that “there is no reasonable doubt that California has a substantial relationship to this case,” thanks to Twitter’s “primary place of business” being San Francisco.

“While this is sufficient to dismiss the third claim, a few additional observations are helpful,” the judgment continues. “…The Terms of Service expressly state that Twitter may suspend or terminate an account ‘at any time, for any reason’. It also states that Twitter may remove or refuse to distribute any content. There is no There is nothing prudent or misleading about these provisions, and the Complainants’ suggestion that Twitter may have applied them inconsistently…or at the behest of the government, does not change that.

A fourth claim, under Florida’s so-called Stop Social Media Censorship Act, was also denied because Trump’s Twitter account had already been shut down by the time the law took effect in July 2021. Notwithstanding the fact that a federal judge barred Florida from enforcing the law, a decision the state is currently appealing, Donato wrote, “Therefore, it is unclear what plaintiffs claim to be the potential enforcement of the law. law in their case.”

Trump, who lost dozens of lawsuits in his attempts to reverse his 2020 election defeat, will be allowed to refile the lawsuit. However, Donato stated in his order that he was prohibited from adding any new claims.

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