A California court on Friday ruled Donald Trump’s Twitter complaint inadmissible: the former US president wanted to be able to return to the social network, access to which he was banned for inciting violence in January 2021.
The Republican billionaire and his co-plaintiffs accuse Twitter of “censorship” that violates their right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the US Constitution.
The complaint has no place, according to the judge
But “Plaintiffs are not in a strong position,” said California Judge James Donato, “because “Twitter is a private company and the First Amendment only applies to government-imposed restrictions on speech” (…).” The platform rules “give Twitter contractual permission to act in its sole discretion with any account or content for any reason or no reason at all,” he adds.
Donald Trump was blocked from mainstream networks (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) after his supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, which he is accused of encouraging. The platforms justified their decision on the risk of further incitement to violence.
Before being ousted from Twitter, the former head of state had about 89 million followers. He spoke to them every day, alternating between presidential statements and attacks on his political opponents.
Donald Trump also asked the court to declare unconstitutional section 230 of the 1996 law, which protects Internet hosts from lawsuits related to content published by third parties. But the magistrate replied that this was not valid unless the plaintiffs could prove that they had suffered damage.
Elon Musk wants less moderation on Twitter
The move came after Elon Musk reached an agreement with Twitter’s board of directors to buy the California-based company for $44 billion. The Tesla boss wants to make it a bastion of freedom of expression, within the limits of the law, but with content moderation much less restrictive than it is now. He believes, like many conservatives, that Twitter is being censored.
However, Donald Trump recently told the American media that he is not going to return to the platform, even if Elon Musk invites him back. In February, he launched his own social network called Truth Social. The judge left the door open for an amended complaint based on his comments.