Although former President Donald Trump recently announced the formation of his own social media company, he has lawsuits against Twitter, Facebook, and Google ongoing in connection to his suspension from mainstream social media sites following his incitement of the January violence at the Capitol. This week, a judge dealt Trump a loss in his case against Twitter, ruling in favor of the company’s motion to have the case moved to the Northern District of California, which is where Twitter’s terms of service — to which all users agree — require that legal challenges involving the company such as this one be handled.
Trump recently sustained a similar loss in his lawsuit against Google, which runs YouTube. The former president’s lawsuit against the company was moved from Florida to the Northern District of California, in line with a requirement for legal challenges outlined in YouTube’s terms of service. As summarized by Business Insider, Trump’s legal team in the Twitter case argued that “he was exempt from the clause because he was the sitting president at the time of his account’s suspension, and that it was in the public’s interest to keep the case in Florida,” but federal Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. rejected this notion.
Instead, Scola wrote that the “Court finds that Trump’s status as President of the United States does not exclude him from the requirements of the forum selection clause in Twitter’s Terms of Service.” Fundamentally, Trump’s case against Twitter seems poised for failure no matter what court hosts it. For starters, the case includes an argument that Trump’s First Amendment rights to free speech have been violated, and although in reality, the rights provided by that amendment only protect Americans from censorship by the government, Trump has an answer for that — and it’s a nonsensical one. As summarized by law Professor Jessica Levinson for MSNBC, Trump’s legal team has “essentially argued that because Twitter is so big and powerful, benefits from a federal law, [and] allegedly acts in agreement with government officials, that it is the government” — but that’s not the case. Twitter didn’t suddenly become a government actor.
Nevertheless, Trump is pushing forward with his nonsense. But no frivolous lawsuit will get him out of scrutiny from authorities like those in New York who filed criminal charges against his company for a years-long scheme to evade paying taxes on pricey benefits for executives.