Speed Reads

Trump vs. Facebook

Trump lawsuit claims Facebook is a 'state actor'

Former President Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit against Facebook as he remains banned for at least another two years, and in it, he asserts the social media company is actually a "state actor." 

Trump on Wednesday filed lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, alleging all three companies have unlawfully censored conservatives, according to The Associated Press. His lawsuit targeting Facebook alleges it "rises beyond that of a private company to that of a state actor" because of its "willful participation in joint activity with federal actors," and it is, therefore, constrained by the First Amendment. 

That claim quickly drew raised eyebrows, with Columbia University's Jameel Jaffer asking, "In what constitution universe can it be the case that Trump wasn't a state actor when he blocked critics from his social media accounts but the social media companies were state actors when they blocked him?" 

Santa Clara University Law School in California professor Eric Goldman also told The Washington Post that "there's no way that Trump is going to be able to get traction" in his lawsuits, while New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights' Paul Barret said that Trump "has the First Amendment argument exactly wrong," per The Washington Post.

"In fact, Facebook and Twitter themselves have a First Amendment free speech right to determine what speech their platforms project and amplify — and that right includes excluding speakers who incite violence, as Trump did in connection with the January 6 Capitol insurrection," Barret said. 

The lawsuit also claims that Democrats in Congress "feared" Trump's "skilled use of social media as a threat to their own re-election efforts," and it asserts that Trump's Facebook page was a "digital town hall" where "no one was excluded, regardless of their views." It complains, though, that being banned for two years will make it more difficult for Trump to "lay the groundwork for his own potential campaign run" in 2024.