But that ended on Wednesday. Trump announced that he has filed suit against Facebook, Google, Twitter, and their CEOs, a class action that will at last seek justice for the people those companies have so grievously wronged, starting with Trump himself.
It sounds like something big: a former president, facing off against some of the biggest, most influential and most profitable tech companies in America. But, in fact, it’s puny and pathetic.
Perhaps because of his company’s struggles, Trump is returning to his roots as a small-time grifter, desperate to draw attention to himself and willing to do just about anything to grab a few extra bucks.
The lawsuit itself is so laughable that it gives away the game; not even Trump could think this is something he’d actually win.
His complaint against Facebook — presumably prepared by actual lawyers, hard as that may be to believe — claims that it “rises 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.”
It goes on to use the word “unconstitutional” again and again to describe Facebook’s decisions, despite the fact that only government action is or isn’t constitutional.
Facebook may be one of the most pernicious forces on Earth, but it’s a private company that set up rules for those who chose to use its service. Trump repeatedly violated those rules, and was kicked off. It really isn’t all that complicated, and it’s the furthest thing from “unconstitutional.”
Of course, this is only the latest in a long-running series of complaints from conservatives about social media companies, which gained urgency when Facebook and Twitter removed Trump’s accounts after the 2020 election. Despite his repeated violations of their rules, they no doubt waited that long because they worried that banning him beforehand would look like they were trying to help him lose, despite all their services had done to enable his rise.
And it isn’t just Trump; other Republicans looking to establish their Trumpian bona fides have tried to use their own power to target these companies. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law banning social media companies from kicking politicians (i.e., Republicans who violate their terms of service) off their platforms; a federal judge quickly blocked the law, citing its blatant infringement of the companies’ right to create and enforce standards.
The Texas Senate passed a similar bill; after it failed in the House, Gov. Greg Abbott — like DeSantis, a Republican who might hope to ride the Trumpian base to the 2024 GOP presidential nomination — called a special session of his state’s legislature. Among the things it will consider:
Legislation safeguarding the freedom of speech by protecting social-media users from being censored by social-media companies based on the user’s expressed viewpoints, including by providing a legal remedy for those wrongfully excluded from a platform.
To repeat, even if the companies were just removing Republicans for being Republicans (which they aren’t), they would have every right to do so.
Ambitious politicians often stage stunts to appeal to their party’s base; the dumber they think that base is, the dumber the stunts will be. But Trump is a former president. No one expected him to discover dignity for the first time in his 75 years, yet so much of what he is doing these days is just petty and small.
And what is this suit about? It’s about money, of course. As soon as Trump announced the suit, fundraising texts were blasted out to his supporters.
“President Trump is filing a LAWSUIT against Facebook and Twitter for UNFAIR CENSORSHIP!” they read. “Please contribute IMMEDIATELY to INCREASE your impact by 500% and to get your name on the Donor List President Trump sees!”
Five dollars? Ten dollars? Whatever you can contribute to help Trump, get out that credit card and do it now.
This is a reminder of Trump’s truest nature: a sad small-timer telling everyone how big he is.
For much of his career, there has been no scam too small for him to pull and no product too cheesy for him to hawk, whether it was steaks or ties or vodka or vitamins. That last one involved people sending in a urine test, after which they’d receive a package of vitamins supposedly tuned to their unique metabolism. You can guess how it ended.
If it could bring in a few bucks, he did it. And that’s what he’s still doing.