Former president Donald Trump held his first official post-presidency press conference to announce a class-action lawsuit against three Big Tech giants: Google, Facebook and Twitter.
“This, I think, will go down as the biggest class action ever filed,” he said while addressing the media at New Jersey’s Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.
Trump noted that the effort by the companies to censor himself and many other conservatives was, fundamentally, an attack on First Amendment free speech rights that should concern all Americans, regardless of political affiliation.
“From the very beginning of our nation, freedom of speech has always been understood as a bedrock of our liberty and our strength,” he said.
America’s founding fathers were well aware of how crucial a component it was to a democratic government, the 45th president added, invoking the words of a presidential predecessor, George Washington.
“They knew that free speech is essential to the prevention of horror and to the preservation of our republic,” Trump said.
Predictably, with corrupt Democrats having “deputized some platforms to become the de-facto censorship arm of the American government,” those horrors were now beginning to manifest themselves in other ways during the Biden administration, he noted.
“We’re very close to seeing that now in our country,” Trump warned. “We’ve never been in a position like this, and it’s all happening very quickly.”
Nonetheless, while promising the new lawsuit would be a game-changer in reversing the country’s dictatorial trajectory, he said it would likely be a lengthy process, extending beyond next year’s midterm election.
“We’re not looking for a settlement, we don’t expect a settlement,” Trump said while taking questions from the press.
He added that he was doubtful that he would return to the platforms even if they were to restore his accounts.
The announcement comes amid the recent news that some of Trump’s former aides have launched a new, conservative-friendly social-media platform, GETTR.
Trump has said he is planning his own platform, although he has yet to announce the details.
But that, too, is likely part of the multi-pronged war he is committed to waging against Big Tech censorship, which also will spill over into state-specific challenges and into the political arena.
The lawsuit is being brought in south Florida, home to Trump’s winter residence of Mar-a-Lago, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis—potentially a top 2024 presidential contender—recently signed a law penalizing Big Tech companies for their practices.
The Silicon Valley oligarchs fired back with a lawsuit of their own, and a Bill Clinton-appointed federal judge last week blocked the law from taking effect.
However, Trump said thousands of censorship victims already were signed on to the nationwide suit being supported by the new America First Policy Institute.
“It will be part of the national narrative, I think, moving forward for the next couple of years,” said AFPI President Brooke Rollins.
Rollins said they were expecting to get tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of participants, who could sign up at Takeonbigtech.com. (At time of publication, the link redirected back to the main AFPI site with no clear sign-up page for the lawsuit).
Lawyers and legal strategists—including Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general and now chairman of AFPI’s Constitutional Litigation Partnership—noted that the litigation was centered around making the case that the social-media publishers had become government entities themselves, in violation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of the 1990s.
The liability protections extended under the statute in the early days of the Internet are obsolete now, given the extraordinary power and influence that the monopolistic companies have secured while under its auspices.
“When this law was passed, [Facebook CEO Mark] Zuckerberg was in middle school,” said lead attorney John Coale. “It has served its purpose, and now it’s turned into this monster.”
In addition to exploiting Section 230 immunity, Coale said Zuckerberg and the other CEOs named—Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google’s Sundar Pichai—had been cajoled by Democrats in Congress to police hate speech.
“Congress cannot delegate what they can’t do itself, and that’s what they’ve done,” he said, arguing that only the Supreme Court had the authority in the US to become arbiters of what constitutes acceptable speech.
Bondi further noted that recent emails between Zuckerberg and coronavirus czar Anthony Fauci showed the two actively colluding, which effectively subjected the platform to government constraints and accountability rather than private company protections.
“A lot of their emails that we received have been redacted,” she said of the publicly released trove of Fauci’s correspondence during the early part of the pandemic.
“They were trading secrets,” Bondi continued. “… That makes them—they’re not immune anymore. … It was coercion, collusion, working together—and they cannot hide from the First Amendment.
Zuckerberg also has come under fire for funneling some $350 million into political operations to swing the 2020 election for Democrats by targeting blue voters in red-leaning swing states through nonprofits including the Center for Tech and Civic Life.
Trump, who discursively railed, at times, during the press conference about the stolen election and other abuses heaped upon his presidency, said one silver lining had been shedding light on the massive corruption that might otherwise have remained hidden in the shadows.
“I hate to take credit for this but I’m very proud of the fact that I exposed them for what they are,” he said.