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May 20, 2022

News of the Trade

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Judge Dismisses Trump Lawsuit Seeking to Lift Twitter Ban

On Friday, a US federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by former US President Donald Trump that sought to lift the ban on his Twitter account. The social network permanently banned Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol, after concluding that Trump’s recent tweets had constituted a risk to public safety.

In Friday’s 17-page ruling on Trump’s suit, San Francisco Judge James Donato noted that “the First Amendment applies only to governmental abridgements of speech, and not to alleged abridgements by private companies,” such as Twitter. 

Last July, Trump filed a lawsuit alleging that Twitter censored him and infringed on his First Amendment rights to free speech. 

Similar lawsuits that allege censorship and argue that social media companies violate the First Amendment have repeatedly been rejected by courts across the country. As Donato pointed out, the First Amendment applies to the government, not to private companies like social media sites. 

Twitter banned Trump on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after a mob of his supporters stormed the US Capitol building in a riot that left several people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Twitter said the ban was “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

While dismissing Trump’s lawsuit, Donato left open the opportunity for Trump to file an amended complaint, according to CNBC.

Even if his ban was lifted, it’s not clear if Trump would come back to Twitter. In April, the former president said he wouldn’t return to Twitter but would instead use his own Truth Social platform. It’s also unclear if Trump would be allowed to return to Twitter once Tesla CEO Elon Musk takes control of the social network. In late April, Musk struck a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion.

Neither Twitter nor representatives for Trump immediately responded to requests for comment.