Why the First Amendment can’t protect Trump on Twitter or save Parler

Why the First Amendment can't protect Trump on Twitter or save Parler


Bill Oxford via Getty Images

First Amendment as Conservative Social Media Companies Cry Crying Dishonest, Including Twitter and Facebook, Banning Social Media Accounts by President Donald Trump and Those Who Say Violence in the wake of Last Week’s Attack on the US Capitol – And Apple, after Google and Amazon have discontinued the conservative social media service Parler.

Twitter on Friday permanently closed Trump’s personal account as well as other accounts he used. Twitter said it was banning the president for inflammatory tweets, as Trump’s mob attacked the Capitol as Congress to finalize electoral votes for Joe Biden as president in the joint election Was found. Twitter also suspended the accounts of other prominent supporters of Trump, including Retired General Michael Flynn, Trump’s lawyer Sydney powell And supporters of the bogus QAnon conspiracy theory, embraced by many of Trump’s most fond fans.

The move comes after Trump was suspended indefinitely by Facebook and Instagram from their platforms. Twitch and Snapchat also deactivated Trump’s accounts.

Meanwhile, tech companies Apple and Google have banned alternative social media platform Parler from their App Store. And Amazon cut their web hosting services to Parlar.

This action marks a dramatic turn for companies that have been in the past several years when it comes to delivering speeches on their platforms. But the violence that occurred last week in Washington, DC, served as a turning point, moving companies to silence both personal voices and places seen as inciting violence.

Conservatives say this action is nothing more than censorship and a violation of their First Amendment rights to deliver speeches. Donald Trump Jr. Tweeted on friday: “There’s a free speech attack! Censorship is happening as before! Don’t let them silence us. Sign up at http://DONJR.COM to stay connected!”

But is it really a violation of the First Amendment? The short answer is no. This FAQ breaks it down.

Is it legal for social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to ban Trump and others from their platform?


Free speech protection under the First Amendment to the US Constitution only applies to government censoring speech. This does not mean that private companies cannot decide what type of speech they allow on their platform. Companies can and should follow their own standards and policies.

And they can remove users who violate those standards.

“It’s a common mistake that people help understand First Amendment Protection,” said law professor Clay Calvert of Florida Levine College of Law. “There is no constitutional right to tweet or post on Facebook.”

Calvert said that private companies, like the publisher of a newspaper, are able to determine what can and cannot be posted on their platforms. They offer the terms of service, which consumers agree to abide by.

This is a violation of the Terms of Service, which Twitter, Facebook and others have said is the reason they blocked Trump using their platforms.

In fact, Calvert points out that this is the first amendment that gives these private companies the right to moderate their platforms.

What was Twitter’s rationale for banning Trump?

The social media company, run by CEO Jack Dorsey, said it was concerned about two tweets that Trump sent on Friday that could provoke further violence.

“75,000,000 great American patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKER AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE in the future. They will not be disrespected or misbehaved in any way, shape or form !!!”

“To all those who have asked, I will not attend the inauguration on 20 January.”

Twitter said the first tweet, citing Trump’s false claims that he won the November presidential election, saw his followers escalate the violence by urging them to reverse the election based on unbridled claims of fraud can go.

The company said the second tweet could encourage those considering violent acts that the inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20 would be a “safe” goal because Trump would not attend.

“Our determination is that the two tweets above are likely to inspire others to repeat the violent incidents on January 6, 2021, and there are several indicators that they are being received and understood as an incentive to do so Is, ”Twitter said. In blog post.

Twitter, along with Facebook and Instagram, point to their terms of service, which prevent violence on its platform. Snapchat also issued an indefinite ban. All of them say that Trump violated their terms of service.

Twitter is flagging some of Trump’s previous tweets for posting misinformation about the 2020 election and debunking false claims that the election was a widespread fraud. While the Justice Department and other US agencies have said there is no evidence of large-scale voter fraud, several US election agencies have described the November election as “the safest in American history”.

Before the Capitol was attacked by violent pro-Trump supporters, the President spoke to the crowd in front of the White House and encouraged his followers to walk into the Capitol and fight to win elections on their behalf. Meanwhile, inside the Capitol, Congress was meeting to certify the Electoral College votes for President-Elect Biden. Biden won the presidential race with 81.28 million votes and 306 electoral votes.

What about Simon & Schuster, who canceled the publication of Simon Josh Hawley’s upcoming book? Is it a First Amendment violation?

Again, the First Amendment claim relates only to censorship from the US government. Simone & Schuster is a private company owned by ViacomCBS. It can decide what to publish and what not to publish. No one has the constitutional right to publish his book.

Any suit that arises from the publisher canceling the publication of Hawley’s book will likely be based on a breach of contract between Hawley and the publisher. But it will not be based on any First Amendment claims.

What did Apple and Google say about removing social media platform Parler from the App Store, and Amazon announced that it would no longer host Parler’s service? Does it limit free speech under the First Amendment?

No. Like social media platforms and book publishers, the First Amendment does not force Amazon, Apple or Google to offer all apps or provide web services to any company. The First Amendment and Free Speech Guarantee is limited only to prevent the government from censoring.

But this is not to say that there are not other concerns. Ronnell Anderson Jones, a law professor at the University of Utah and an affiliated fellow at Yale Law School, said there is a difference between First Amendment protections and what we consider to be limits on free speech.

“We may want to think more carefully about our free speech and expressive values ​​when one company is unable to operate because another company controls a piece of the infrastructure,” she said. “To be a worthy debate. But this is not a First Amendment issue.”

Has Parler not sued Amazon? What about the lawsuit then?

Parler’s lawsuit against Amazon alleges that the company suspended it from its hosting service for violating antitrust law and breaching the company’s contractual arrangements.

Parler alleges in an 18-page complaint filed in the US District Court in Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered, that Amazon Web Services (AWS) has given a politically motivated double on stopping Poller’s service Standard implemented. The company argues that this contradicts Twitter’s treatment.

The lawsuit reads, “The AWS’s decision to effectively end Parler’s account is clearly motivated by political hostility.” “It is explicitly designed to reduce competition in the microblogging services market for Twitter’s advantage.”

It also claims that Amazon breached its service contract by not honoring the 30-day grace period before terminating the service.

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