OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Donald Trump is taking the fight to Facebook and Twitter, the two social media giants who banned him from their platforms.
The 45th President of the United States is planning to announce class action lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter and Google and their CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai respectively, Axios reported.
It’s the latest escalation in Trump’s years-long battle with Twitter and Facebook over free speech and censorship. Trump is completely banned from Twitter and is banned from Facebook for another two years.
Trump is scheduled to make an announcement at a press conference today at 11 am.
Trump’s legal effort is supported by the America First Policy Institute, a non-profit focused on perpetuating Trump’s policies.
The group’s president and CEO and board chair, former Trump officials Linda McMahon and Brooke Rollins, will accompany him during the announcement.
Class action lawsuits would enable him to sue the two tech CEOs on behalf of a broader group of people that he argues have been censored by biased policies.
Axios notes that no evidence has been presented by Trump or his allies that either platform has a bias against conservatives, but it is a prevailing belief among many conservatives and a lawsuit could force the two Silicon Valley giants to show precisely how they determine who gets banned, shadow banned or otherwise punished.
Trump was banned from Twitter for life, but Facebook gave a timetable for his possible return in June.
Facebook’s vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg issued a blog post announcing a minimum two-year ban for Trump, Politico reported.
“Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols,” he said. “We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year.”
“We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year,” it said.
“We are today announcing new enforcement protocols to be applied in exceptional cases such as this, and we are confirming the time-bound penalty consistent with those protocols which we are applying to Mr. Trump’s accounts,” it said.
But even when Trump comes back the company has announced that he will have to live by special rules made for him., which is significant because it means the ban is not permanent.
“When the suspension is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr. Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts,” it said.
“In establishing the two-year sanction for severe violations, we considered the need for it to be long enough to allow a safe period of time after the acts of incitement, to be significant enough to be a deterrent to Mr. Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future, and to be proportionate to the gravity of the violation itself,” it said.
It is of note that the suspension will continue through the 2022 midterm elections where Trump is expected to play a key role for Republicans.
The news of the lawsuit also comes after his former staffer, Jason Miller, announced the start of his own site.
The platform, known as GETTR, launched on Thursday and its mission statement reads that it is a place that is “fighting cancel culture, promoting common sense, defending free speech, challenging social media monopolies, and creating a true marketplace of ideas,” Politico reported.
Trump’s former spokesman, Jason Miller, is leading the platform. A person familiar described the site as similar to Twitter.
Trump’s involvement with the project is unclear as is whether or not he will set up an account on GETTR and use it, though his proximity to Miller suggests that this may be the latest attempt to get him back in the churn of social media
The former president has been looking for alternative ways to engage with his base online after having been booted off Twitter and suspended from Facebook after encouraging the Capitol rioters on January 6. And his prior effort to engage online—through the launch of a professional blog—ended quickly amid widespread ridicule and poor readership.
GETTR is one of the highest-profile projects in a larger ecosystem of pro-MAGA tech and social media platforms that have blossomed on the right, largely fueled by a sense that Big Tech is attempting to silence conservative and pro-Trump ideology from being disseminated online. In recent months, it was widely reported that the Trump team was searching for a platform on which to re-establish his online presence, either by buying a company outright and rebranding it as his exclusive platform, or becoming a featured draw.