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Trump asks judge to restore Facebook account while court case plays out

The former president says Facebook is causing irreparable damage to the Republican Party’s prospects by cutting off his communication with potential voters ahead of the upcoming midterms and presidential election.

(CN) — Former President Donald Trump asked a Florida federal judge to order Facebook to reinstate his account, claiming that he will suffer irreparable harm if he remains cut off from the platform while his legal battle over his suspension plays out.

Filed as part of a class action against Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the motion for a preliminary injunction alleges that the 45th president’s suspension from the platform violates his First Amendment rights and unfairly diminishes his ability to “communicate his views, content and endorsements of local candidates.”

Referring to Trump’s account as “a communication tool of his presidency” and a “digital town hall," his attorneys allege that Trump is also facing the “loss of his donor and merchandising platforms.”

Thursday's filing claims that the damage could be even more wide-reaching, asserting Facebook’s actions have imperiled the entire Republican Party’s ability to reach out to voters ahead of upcoming elections.

“By de-platforming the presumptive head and most popular member of the Republican Party, cutting him off from the most effective and direct forms of communication with potential voters, defendant is threatening irreparable damage to the Republican Party’s prospects in the 2022 and 2024 elections,” the motion states.

Citing fears that the former president would foment further violence after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, Facebook removed him from the platform until at least January 2023, when he will be eligible for reinstatement pending an assessment into “whether the risk to public safety has receded.”

Trump has been indefinitely suspended from Twitter and Google-owned YouTube. He sued all three companies and their CEOS in July to challenge the de-platforming, spearheading class-action complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The lawsuits also ask federal judges to overturn the protections granted to tech companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which allows companies to engage in good faith efforts to remove content that violates their terms of service and generally exempts them from legal liability for posts made by users.

Trump has argued that government officials, especially Democratic members of Congress, “coercively pressured” the company to censor him by threatening to revoke those protections.

Since courts have long held that the First Amendment’s freedom of speech protections do not prevent private companies from restricting speech, attorneys for Trump have argued that Facebook’s alleged censorship of the former president became a state action under the First Amendment when the government provided “significant encouragement” for kicking Trump off the platforms.

The motion claims Facebook “worked with the government” to violate his free speech rights.

The filing also claims that Facebook violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by unevenly applying its standards for user conduct, especially with regard to disciplining users for spreading misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Facebook's actions reflect a desire to remove “politically disfavored” content, attorneys for Trump have argued.

A judge has not yet ruled on similar motions filed by Trump’s attorneys demanding the restoration of his Twitter and YouTube accounts.

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