One of the gravest threats to our democracy today is a powerful group of Big Tech corporations that have teamed up with government to censor the free speech of the American people. This is not only wrong—it is unconstitutional. To restore free speech for myself and for every American, I am suing Big Tech to stop it.
Social media has become as central to free speech as town meeting halls, newspapers and television networks were in prior generations. The internet is the new public square. In recent years, however, Big Tech platforms have become increasingly brazen and shameless in censoring and discriminating against ideas, information and people on social media—banning users, deplatforming organizations, and aggressively blocking the free flow of information on which our democracy depends.
No longer are Big Tech giants simply removing specific threats of violence. They are manipulating and controlling the political debate itself. Consider content that was censored in the past year. Big Tech companies banned users from their platforms for publishing evidence that showed the coronavirus emerged from a Chinese lab, which even the corporate media now admits may be true. In the middle of a pandemic, Big Tech censored physicians from discussing potential treatments such as hydroxychloroquine, which studies have now shown does work to relieve symptoms of Covid-19. In the weeks before a presidential election, the platforms banned the New York Post—America’s oldest newspaper—for publishing a story critical of Joe Biden’s family, a story the Biden campaign did not even dispute.
Perhaps most egregious, in the weeks after the election, Big Tech blocked the social-media accounts of the sitting president. If they can do it to me, they can do it to you—and believe me, they are.
Jennifer Horton, a Michigan schoolteacher, was banned from Facebook for sharing an article questioning whether mandatory masks for young children are healthy. Later, when her brother went missing, she was unable to use Facebook to get the word out. Colorado physician Kelly Victory was deplatformed by YouTube after she made a video for her church explaining how to hold services safely. Kiyan Michael of Florida and her husband, Bobby, lost their 21-year-old son in a fatal collision caused by a twice-deported illegal alien. Facebook censored them after they posted on border security and immigration enforcement.
Meanwhile, Chinese propagandists and the Iranian dictator spew threats and hateful lies on these platforms with impunity.
This flagrant attack on free speech is doing terrible damage to our country. That is why in conjunction with the America First Policy Institute, I filed class-action lawsuits to force Big Tech to stop censoring the American people. The suits seek damages to deter such behavior in the future and injunctions restoring my accounts.
Our lawsuits argue that Big Tech companies are being used to impose illegal and unconstitutional government censorship. In 1996 Congress sought to promote the growth of the internet by extending liability protections to internet platforms, recognizing that they were exactly that—platforms, not publishers. Unlike publishers, companies such as Facebook and Twitter can’t be held legally liable for the content posted to their sites. Without this immunity, social media companies could not exist.
Democrats in Congress are exploiting this leverage to coerce platforms into censoring their political opponents. In recent years, we have all watched Congress haul Big Tech CEOs before their committees and demand that they censor “false” stories and “disinformation”—labels determined by an army of partisan fact-checkers loyal to the Democrat Party. As the cases of fellow plaintiffs Ms. Horton, Dr. Victory and the Michael family demonstrate, in practice this amounts to suppression of speech that those in power do not like.
Further, Big Tech and government agencies are actively coordinating to remove content from the platforms according to the guidance of agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Big Tech and traditional media entities formed the Trusted News Initiative, which essentially takes instructions from the CDC about what information they need to “combat.” The tech companies are doing the government’s bidding, colluding to censor unapproved ideas.
This coercion and coordination is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has held that Congress can’t use private actors to achieve what the Constitution prohibits it from doing itself. In effect, Big Tech has been illegally deputized as the censorship arm of the U.S. government. This should alarm you no matter your political persuasion. It is unacceptable, unlawful and un-American.
Through these lawsuits, I intend to restore free speech for all Americans—Democrats, Republicans and independents. I will never stop fighting to defend the constitutional rights and sacred liberties of the American people.
Mr. Trump was the 45th president of the United States.
By Donald J. Trump