Donald Trump Says He Is Suing Facebook, Twitter, Google Over Bans: 'A Very Beautiful Development'
Former President Donald Trump claimed in public remarks on Wednesday he would lead class-action lawsuits against three of the country's biggest tech companies — Facebook, Twitter and Google — and their CEOs following his bans on their platforms in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
Calling it a "very beautiful development," Trump, 75, said he would serve as the lead plaintiff in the suits directed at what he called the "illegal, shameful censorship of the American people."
The suits are being filed against the companies as well as their CEOs — including Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai — all of whom Trump referred to wryly as "three real nice guys" in his Wednesday remarks.
"We're demanding an end to the shadow-banning ... a stop to the banishing, blacklisting and cancelling," he continued, speaking at a Wednesday press conference from his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club.
The filing, Trump said, "seeks injunctive relief to allow prompt restitution ... it has to be prompt because it's destroying our country."
"We're going to hold Big Tech very accountable," Trump said. "This is the first of numerous other lawsuits that I assume would follow."
Trump said that the suits will be "added to" over time, though he didn't offer further details.
Trump was joined by Brooke Rollins, the president and CEO of America First Policy Institute (a group launched by former administration officials after Trump left office), who referred to the bans as "a suppression of First Amendment rights online," and a seizing of "the American public square."
He was also flanked by a group of citizens he said had been "illegally" banned from social media platforms, including a schoolteacher who he claimed was kicked off Facebook for sharing a post questioning whether students should be required to wear masks amid the pandemic.
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Trump's press conference — one of a handful of public appearances he's made since leaving office in January — began by focusing on his lawsuits, but eventually meandered into other territory, with the former president moving away from scripted remarks to talk about "Russia," impeachment efforts against him, his response to the COVID-19 pandemic (which he praised) and "defunding the police."
Requests for comment sent to Facebook, Twitter, and Google were not immediately returned.
Trump has a long history of threatening legal action against those who wrong him, and as the Wall Street Journal earlier reported, has "faced or filed hundreds of lawsuits" over the course of his career.
Trump said he wasn't "looking to settle" in his case against the privately-held tech companies. The former president claimed the companies are "no longer private" and "subject to ... potentially trillions of dollars" in penalties.
Trump currently can't post on Twitter or Facebook, due to bans on both platforms.
Trump's verified Twitter account was permanently suspended in January, following the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol, in which his supporters stormed the building as lawmakers counted the Electoral College votes certifying President-elect Joe Biden's November election win.
"After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence," the social media platform announced at the time.
"In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action," Twitter said in a statement.
In a company blog post, Twitter cited two of Trump's tweets — which included a declaration that he would not be attending Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20 — as a "violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy."
According to Twitter, the statement could be "received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate and is seen as him disavowing his previous claim made via two Tweets ... by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, that there would be an 'orderly transition' on January 20th."
The former president was also indefinitely removed from Facebook and Instagram in January, with Facebook founder Zuckerberg saying at the time, "The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden."
Trump appealed his punishment to Facebook's Oversight Board, an appeals group funded by the company which found in May that his ban was appropriate but that the guidelines for it were too vague.
In June, Facebook announced that it would review the ban in 2023 and only reinstate Trump once the risk his conduct poses to the public "has receded."
Trump's suit against Google comes after YouTube (owned by Google parent company Alphabet) also banned his account following the attempted insurrection. The company has said it would lift its suspension of the former president's channel when it determines the risk of real-world violence has decreased.
"This lawsuit is just beginning," Trump said on Wednesday, adding that he would also take the battle to district courts, as well as "to state legislatures and the ballot box."