Donald Trump was unsuccessful. A California court ruled Friday, May 6, a complaint by the former President of the United States against Twitter inadmissible. The billionaire wanted to be able to return to the social network from which he was banned for incitement to violence in January 2021.
The Republican leader and his co-plaintiffs accuse Twitter of “censorship”, in violation of their constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech. But “the plaintiffs are not in a strong position”explains Californian judge James Donato, because “Twitter is a private company, and ‘the First Amendment only applies to government-imposed speech restrictions’…”.
The rules of the platform “gives contractual permission to Twitter to do as it wishes with any account or content for any reason, and even for no reason”, he adds. Donald Trump was banned from major networks (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) after his supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, which he is accused of having encouraged. The platforms had justified their decision by the risk of further incitement to violence.
Debate on freedom of expression
The move comes as Elon Musk reached an agreement with Twitter’s board of directors to buy the California-based company for $44 billion. The boss of Tesla wants to make it a bastion of freedom of expression, within the limits provided for by law but with a moderation of content much less restrictive than currently. He considers, like many conservatives, that Twitter makes “censorship”.
Before being ousted from Twitter, the former head of state had some 89 million subscribers there. Donald Trump, however, recently told American media that he had no intention of returning to the platform even if Elon Musk invited him back. He launched his own social network in February, called “Truth Social”.