Twitter asks judge to dismiss Donald Trump's lawsuit over censorship claim

  • 13/12/2021
Former US President Donald Trump
The company said it was an attack on its right to free speech. Photo credit: Getty Images

Twitter says Donald Trump's lawsuit over his ban from the platform is an attack on the company's right to free speech and has asked a federal judge to dismiss the case.

The former reality television star and US President is suing the social media company after he was banned in the wake of the January 6, 2021 attack at the Capitol Building in Washington DC.

The case is being heard in a California court after Trump's attempt to sue in Florida was thrown out by a district court judge in the state.

Twitter's terms of service states lawsuits against the company be heard by a federal judge in the Northern District of California and Trump was bound by that clause.

In its filing Twitter said the former President had agreed to abide by the company's rules but instead he "repeatedly violated" them around the time of the attack.

It also argued the Government wasn't able to force it to carry speech which it disagreed with.

The ex-television star is also suing Google and Facebook, alleging all three companies censored him.

Trump's lawyer in those lawsuits, John P Coale, said Twitter's immunity over content moderation meant it needed to abide by the First Amendment. 

"If they didn’t have that immunity and they were doing what they do now, they’d have billions of dollars in judgments against them," Coale told Bloomberg

"Take away that immunity and they'd have 100,000 lawsuits a week."

The US Justice Department has also intervened to defend Section 230, the clause of the Communications Decency Act which has become a target of right-wing campaigners who say it allows technology companies to censor those on the right.

US District Judge James Donato is due to hear oral arguments from both sides on February 23rd.

Trump, meanwhile, is pushing ahead with plans for his own platform, TRUTH Social.

Earlier this month he said it had agreements with investors to raise a billion dollars to fund what he calls a fightback "against the tyranny of Big Tech".

"$1 billion sends an important message to Big Tech that censorship and political discrimination must end. America is ready for TRUTH Social, a platform that will not discriminate on the basis of political ideology."

The new platform is currently in beta testing and is expected to roll out early next year. Last week it was revealed US Representative Devin Nunes was leaving Congress to become CEO of the company running TRUTH Social.

After it launches its Twitter-like platform, the company plans to create a streaming video platform called TMTG+.

The company said the service is "expected to include access to non-woke entertainment, news, documentaries, podcasts and more".