Twitter has filed a federal lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claiming that he used his office to retaliate against the social media giant following their ban of former President Donald Trump’s account.
Just days after Donald Trump’s widespread social media ban, Paxton announced that he was launching an investigation into Twitter and four other major technology companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google) citing what he claimed was “the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President,” and that these actions “wholly silences those whose speech and political beliefs do not align with leaders of Big Tech companies.” His office went on to demand that the named companies produce internal communications and documents relating to their current content moderation policies.
In response, Twitter filed a suit in the Northern District of California on Monday, alleging that the Attorney General aimed to punish the company for banning Trump’s accounts. The suit says that Twitter wants to stop “AG Paxton from unlawfully abusing his authority as the highest law-enforcement officer of the State of Texas to intimidate, harass, and target Twitter,” and that “Paxton made clear that he will use the full weight of his office, including his expansive investigatory powers, to retaliate against Twitter for having made editorial decisions with which he disagrees.”
The social media giant claims that their decision to ban Trump is protected by the “rights of free speech and of the press afforded Twitter under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution include the right to make decisions about what content to disseminate through its platform.” Simply put their argument is, because Twitter and the other companies are private firms the First Amendment doesn’t apply to decisions they make on what material is allowed on their various sites and this means that unlike the government, Twitter is able to silence people if and when they wish.
However Paxton fired back arguing that, “First Amendment rights and transparency must be maintained for a free online community to operate and thrive” and went on to add that the “public deserves the truth about how these companies moderate and possibly eliminate speech they disagree with.” All of this comes as Republican politicians in roughly two dozen states have introduced bills which would allow people to levy civil lawsuits against platforms for the “censorship” of posts. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has touted a piece of legislation called Senate Bill 12 which would prohibit social media companies from blocking, banning, demonetizing, or otherwise discriminating against a user based on their viewpoint or their location within Texas.
ARTICLE: NATHAN REID
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: POLITICO
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