"The First Amendment says Facebook can't block me" is a take you might expect to hear from a kid arguing with their parents. It's not, generally, something you would expect to hear from a former president, who should surely know by now that the First Amendment only applies to the government.

Well, apparently that's yet another thing that Trump and his lawyers simply can't comprehend.

Today was a big day for the whiny crybaby former president. He got to have a completely unhinged press conference AND file three of the dumbest lawsuits I have ever seen.

Honestly, the complaints are works of art — that is, until you realize they aren't satire.

If you're looking for a quick anecdote from the suits that gives an accurate preview of just how ridiculous they are, at one point, the Twitter suit says it's a violation of the First Amendment that the American Conservative Union and CPAC have lost Twitter followers.

By paragraph three of each complaint, the FORMER PRESIDENT (that cannot be emphasized enough) declares that Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are the government. And, as "the government," these private companies are violating his First Amendment rights. Because Section 230. (Section 230 primer available here.)

Yes, seriously.

Defendant Facebook has increasingly engaged in impermissible censorship resulting from threatened legislative action, a misguided reliance upon Section 230 of the Communications Act , 47 U.S.C. § 230, and willful participation in joint activity with federal actors. [Twitter, YouTube, and] Facebook's status[es] thus rise[] beyond that of a private company to that of a state actor. As such, Defendant is constrained by the First Amendment right to free speech in the censorship decisions it makes regarding its Users
And no, that is definitely not a thing.

As a matter of fact, what these lawsuits are trying to do is what actually violates the First Amendment. As private companies, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have a First Amendment right to choose what kind of speech is permitted on their platforms. But Trump and his lawyers have never been people who care about little things like "laws."

I think — though, to be honest, I had trouble understanding vast swaths of the complaints' ramblings — Trump also declares that he unilaterally made social media companies "the government" by using their platforms?

After his inauguration as President in January of 2017, Plaintiff's Facebook account became an instrument of his presidency. By virtue of the way he used his account, Plaintiff's messages became an important source of news and information about the government, as did his followers' comments associated with Plaintiff's posts. Plaintiff's account became a public forum for speech by, to, and about government policy.

When Plaintiff utilized his Facebook account in his official capacity as President: (a) it became an important outlet for news organizations and the U.S. government; and (b) his Facebook account operated as a public forum, serving a public function.

Don't you worry, Trump isn't just fighting this fight for himself, either. He is fighting for ALL the people who have had their social media accounts "censored" since June 2018. And it's not only for people who got banned; Trump wants to include everyone who had a post "flagged, removed, or shadow banned" during that time.

All [Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube] platform Members who reside in the United States, and between June 1, 2018, and today, had their access to their social media accounts wrongly restricted or curtailed by these Defendants and who were damaged thereby.

I'm sure records of all those bans and flags are just a delightful read.

Wait a second! Actually, that makes me a class member! And idk about y'all, but I can't wait until they get to Facebook unjustly deleting and suspending me for my "Men are trash" #MeToo posts.

The complaints, which are identical except for short sections specific to each platform, name Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as each company's CEO (Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai, respectively). The CEOs are being sued in both their individual capacity and also their "official capacity" as, I guess, government actors?
You can tell right away that these lawsuits are going to be good and serious, from the not one, but two lawyers who use AOL.com email addresses in their signature blocks.

Almost every word in these complaints is dumb and bad and wrong. I mean, they are, unfortunately, correct that Trump managed to be such a psychopath that he got banned from social media while he was the sitting US president, but that's pretty much where any resemblance to reality ends.

By using social media, including Facebook, President Trump strategically circumvented what he saw as a mainstream media that was biased against him.

Well, that's a fascinating way to say "Trump prefers platforms where he can screech inane nonsense without having to answer any questions from real journalists."

Naturally, Trump's lawyers' understanding of Section 230 seems to come from Trump's own fever dreams.

Plaintiff respectfully asks this Court to declare that Section 230 on its face is an unconstitutional delegation of authority, that the Defendants' actions directed at the Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members are a prior restraint on their First Amendment right to free speech, to order the Defendants to restore the [Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube] account[s] of Plaintiff, as well as those deplatformed Putative Class Members, and to prohibit Defendants from exercising censorship, editorial control or prior restraint in its many forms over the posts of President Trump, and Putative Class Members.
Although no politicians are named as defendants, the lawsuits spend pages upon pages talking about "Democrat legislators." The sections on those very mean Dems include gems like this one:
Democrat legislators intended to force Defendants into permanently banning Plaintiff's access to his Facebook account, his followers, and the public at large. The ancillary benefit was to deny the public access to Plaintiff's content and views.

There's also an entire section about how the companies worked with the CDC to "curb the spread of vaccine misinformation." That, I guess, makes social media companies "the government"? And the grifter-in-chief must still be getting some kind of kickbacks from Big Hydroxychloroquine And Also Big Bleach, because he's still sad he can't use social media to push ineffective and even dangerous "cures" for the "China virus."

One of the most telling parts comes when the complaints actually say the Trump social media bans are leading to discourse being "one-sided on race."

By banning Plaintiff, Defendants made it more difficult for Plaintiff to communicate directly with the American public. Our national discourse is becoming immeasurably more altered and one-sided on race, medicine, the election process, the economy, immigration, etc.

And what, precisely, is the "side" you take on race, Mr. Trump?

Actually, you know what? You're right. What Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube really need are more white supremacists.

The YouTube complaint also talks about what a wonderful public forum the comments on Trump's YouTube were. Yes, YouTube comments, where even the comments on adorable cat videos get taken over by Nazis.

The comments generated by Plaintiff's YouTube uploads also gave rise to important public discussion and debate about government policy. Typically, his uploads would generate thousands of replies posted by other Users, some of which would generate hundreds or thousands of replies in turn. President Trump's channel was a digital town hall in which the President of the United States communicated news and information to the public directly.

I am just SURE that the white supremacist former president's YouTube comments were full of intelligent political debate.

All three suits were filed in the Southern District of Florida and should be quickly dismissed, even if assigned to a Trump-appointed, unqualified stooge judge. Normally, I wouldn't put entirely ignoring the law and precedent past Trump's judicial picks, but that's just how bad these lawsuits are.

Florida has an anti-SLAPP law, so fingers crossed for some serious sanctions against both the plaintiffs and the lawyers who they managed to get to file these absolute monstrosities.


Trump filed three lawsuits saying "Social media is the government! And the First Amendment says they have to do whatever I want!"

I guess we didn't entirely escape the dumbest timeline when Joe Biden took office, after all.

Here's the Facebook complaint, in all its glory. You can find the YouTube complaint here and the Twitter complaint here, thanks to the Free Law Project!

To learn more about how stupid people are about the First Amendment, follow Jamie on Twitter!

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Jamie Lynn Crofts
Jamie Lynn Crofts is sick of your bullshit. When she’s not wrangling cats, she’s probably writing about nerdy legal stuff, rocking out at karaoke, or tweeting about god knows what. Jamie would kindly like to remind everyone that it’s perfectly legal to tell Bob Murray to eat shit.

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