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Trump asks federal judge to restore his YouTube account

Attorneys for the former president alleged that YouTube’s decision to ban him “endangers democracy.”

(CN) — Former President Donald Trump on Monday asked a Florida federal judge to order YouTube to restore his account and allow him to sell merchandise on the platform once again.

Filed as part of a class-action lawsuit against the video sharing site, the motion alleges that YouTube’s decision to ban Trump “endangers democracy, stifles public debate and may well tip the balance of the 2022 Congressional elections and the 2024 presidential election.”

According to the filing, the former president’s removal from social media has also imperiled his donor and merchandising platforms and dampened his ability to communicate his endorsements of candidates.

Denying the request for a preliminary injunction would result in “irreparable” harm to both Trump as a future political candidate and to the Republican Party in general, the filing says.

The former president’s account was removed from YouTube, Twitter and Facebook following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol due to concerns that he might incite further violence. YouTube and Twitter indefinitely suspended him, but the former president will be eligible for reinstatement on Facebook in January 2023.

Seeking unspecified damages for alleged violations of his First Amendment rights, Trump filed four putative class-action lawsuits against the tech companies and their CEOs last month in a bid to challenge the deplatforming.

The lawsuits, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, also ask federal judges to overturn the protections granted to internet companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The law allows tech companies to engage in “good faith” efforts to remove posts from their platforms that are obscene or violate their terms of service and generally exempts companies from liability for the posts users make.

The motion claims that YouTube’s “censorship and prior restraint of [Trump’s] speech” violates the First Amendment and Florida’s Stop Social Media Censorship Act, which was signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May but blocked by a federal judge in July.

The law would have allowed politicians that have been suspended from social media platforms to sue tech companies.

Trump has argued that members of Congress, especially Democratic politicians, exerted “coercive pressure” on the tech companies to censor him. He claims YouTube “worked with the government” to violate his First Amendment rights.

The motion also alleges that YouTube has deceived users and violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by unevenly applying its standards for user conduct, especially with regard to suspending or banning users for spreading misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The true thread behind all of defendant’s censorship decisions is whether the content being discussed was favored by Democrats about to take control of Congress and the White House. Defendant makes no effort to apply an objective standard for Covid-19, and thus it is deceptively misleading its Subscribers as to the reliability of the content they might find on YouTube,” the motion says.

A representative for YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.

Attorneys for Trump have reportedly said they plan to file similar requests for injunctive relief against Facebook and Twitter.

Trump is represented by Matthew Baldwin and Carlos Trujillo of Vargas Gonzalez Baldwin Delombard, LLP.

Follow Kayla Goggin on Twitter

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