Trump said during a press conference Wednesday that he is asking a court in Florida “to order an immediate halt to social media companies’ illegal, shameful censorship of the American people.”
“We’re going to hold big tech very accountable,” he said.
The push to bring legal action against tech platforms over bias allegations has spread nationwide. In May, Florida passed a law allowing politicians that have been suspended or removed from social media to sue those companies.
The judge’s ruling also said the Florida law ran counter to a federal law Trump had sought to weaken with his executive order: Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934. Section 230 provides legal immunity to websites that moderate user-generated content, and has been used by tech platforms to nip many lawsuits in the bud.
In Congress, numerous bills have been proposed to narrow the scope of Section 230, including by some Democrats who believe tech companies are not doing enough to curb hate speech and harassment online.
But much of the momentum for changing Section 230 has come from Republicans upset about how social media companies have enforced their rules when conservatives have broken them. Trump, in his order, accused tech companies of “engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse,” and pushed for the Federal Communications Commission to “clarify” Section 230.
Legal experts and FCC officials themselves questioned the agency’s authority to do that, citing the same First Amendment issues that tied up the Florida law. President Joe Biden later rescinded Trump’s order.
Now, having failed to turn the machinery of the US government against the tech industry, Trump is trying to get at it through the courts himself. But with Section 230 still on the books, it’s unclear how he could succeed.
CNN’s Michael Warren and Ashley Semler contributed reporting.