Trump Re-Ups Fight Against the 'Cat's Paws' of Twitter

Former president files lawsuit in appeals court regarding his ban on social media platform
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2022 6:40 AM CST
Trump Would Like His Twitter Back Now, Please
Former President Donald Trump arrives to speak at Mar-a-Lago on Nov. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Elon Musk has previously said he would lift former President Trump's Twitter ban, and now it looks as if it might be just a matter of time before that happens. Trump doesn't seem to want to wait for the social media platform's answer on that, however: On Monday, Trump's legal team revived a lawsuit demanding his January 2021 suspension from Twitter be lifted, reports Reuters. The 96-page complaint filed in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals fights the ban on First Amendment and censorship grounds, claiming "this case presents the most important Free Speech issue of our day." The filing goes on to say that, although the government itself isn't involved here in limiting Trump's speech, it's using "social media platforms as cat's paws to suppress opinions and information about matters that Americans consider of vital interest."

These platforms are "the subjects of bullying, threats, and thinly-veiled invitations to 'collaborate' by government actors who wield immense power to harm them if they don't toe the line," the suit notes. According to Twitter, Trump's account was suspended "due to the risk of further incitement of violence" two days after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. Many conservatives have obviously been pushing for Trump's return, with Jake Denton, a research associate at the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank, telling USA Today last month that Trump is "is objectively still the figurehead of conservative politics. ... He drives the messaging." However, Brian Ott, a Missouri State University comms professor, told the outlet that allowing Trump to return to Twitter would be a "colossal mistake."

Ott notes: "He was removed for good reason, namely repeatedly violating their terms of service and for inciting violence." A Trump return could also be a "red line" for advertisers, an ad-buying agency exec told the Wall Street Journal last month—and many advertisers are already skittish about what's going on at Twitter. Trump remains banned from YouTube and Facebook as well, with YouTube not saying when that ban will ever be lifted, though it leaves the door open. Facebook, however, could do away with its ban as early as this January. This news all comes on the cusp of an announcement from Trump on Tuesday in which it's expected he'll officially launch his third presidential bid, and despite comments earlier this year in which Trump insisted he's happy sticking with the Truth Social platform. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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