Federal judge dismisses Trump's lawsuit against Twitter

Twitter didn't violate his First Amendment rights, the judge has ruled.

The Washington Post via Getty Images

San Francisco federal district court Judge James Donato has tossed the lawsuit Donald Trump filed against Twitter last year in a bid to get his account back. The social network permanently suspended the former president's account after his supporters stormed the Capitol in January 2021. In the company's announcement, Twitter cited two of his tweets in particular that it believes were "highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the US Capitol" on January 6th last year.

Trump filed a lawsuit in October, seeking a preliminary injunction on the ban and arguing that it violates his First Amendment rights. Donato disagreed and noted in his ruling that Twitter is a private company. "The First Amendment applies only to governmental abridgements of speech," he explained, "and not to alleged abridgements by private companies." The judge also rejected the notion that the social network had acted as a government entity after being pressured by Trump's opponents and had thereby violated the First Amendment when it banned the former President.

In his lawsuit, Trump asked the judge to rule the federal Communications Decency Act, which states that online service providers such as Twitter can't be held liable for content posted by users, as unconstitutional. The judge shot down that claim, as well, and ruled that the former President didn't have legal standing to challenge Section 230 of CDA. Trump is a known critic of Section 230 and proposed to limit the protections social media platforms enjoy under it during his term.

The former President was an avid Twitter user before his suspension and formed his own social network called Truth Social after he was banned. Just recently, he told CNBC that he won't be going back to Twitter even if Elon Musk reverses his suspension and will stay on Truth Social instead. According to a recent report by the Daily Beast, Truth Social has 513,000 daily active users compared to Twitter's 217 million.