A US judge has handed former US President Donald Trump a setback in his legal fight to get Twitter to restore his account on the platform.
Earlier this month Donald Trump had asked a US judge in Florida (Trump’s home state) to order Twitter to restore his account, which the former US President used as his main communication channel before, and during his presidency.
Trump argued that Twitter’s permanent ban violated Florida’s new ‘deplatforming law’, which prevents social media platforms from banning politicians.
That deplatforming law was introduced in May, when controversial Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed the state bill.
However, that ‘deplatforming’ law is not currently in force in Florida due a court decision that said it violates the free speech rights of social networking companies to host the content they want to host.
But that did not stop Trump from asking a federal judge in Florida to force social media giant Twitter to restore his account.
Trump’s attorneys earlier this month filed a motion in US district court in Miami seeking a preliminary injunction against Twitter and its CEO, Jack Dorsey.
They argued that Twitter was censoring Trump in violation of his First Amendment rights.
Trump also filed lawsuits in the US district court for the southern district of Florida in July against three tech companies and their CEOs.
He claimed at the time that he and other conservatives have been wrongfully censored.
But earlier this month, a different judge transferred a lawsuit Trump brought against Alphabet’s YouTube, from Florida to California.
And now Reuters has reported that Trump cannot fight his suspension from Twitter in a Florida federal court, but instead must abide by the social media company’s terms of service and sue in California.
US District Judge Robert Scola in Miami said in a written order late on Tuesday that Trump was bound by a “forum selection clause” in Twitter’s terms of service, which mandates that certain lawsuits against the company be heard by a federal judge in the Northern District of California.
Trump’s lawyers had argued his Twitter account was a “public forum” and “government entity,” and therefore fell under an exception to Twitter’s forum selection clause.
Reuters reported that Scola rejected this argument, saying the forum selection clause was “valid and mandatory, and that “Trump’s former status as the President of the United States does not preclude the application of the forum selection clause.”
John Coale, a lawyer for Trump, said in an interview that he was not surprised by the ruling because forum selection clauses are often held to be binding.
Trump was well known for his use of Twitter during his presidency.
His tweets often inspired ridicule and anger, but he also posted content that was at times racist and provocative.
But karma eventually caught up, when Donald Trump was banned on many social networking platforms for his role in inciting a mob of his supporters to storm the US Capitol building on Wednesday 6 January, which resulted in the deaths of five people (including one police officer who was beaten to death).
In the immediate aftermath, Facebook banned Trump for 24 hours, but as the full scale of the attempted insurrection became clear, it then suspended his accounts for longer.
Indeed, Trump’s Facebook ban will last two years, until 7 January 2023, after which the company will review his suspension.
YouTube and Twitter also initially banned Trump for a limited period of time, but YouTube then suspended Trump’s account indefinitely.
Twitter also opted to permanently ban Trump from its platform.
Before the ban, Trump had roughly 89 million followers on Twitter.
After leaving office Donald Trump launched a website to publish content ‘straight from the desk’ of the former president.
But after only one month of operation, Donald Trump closed down the website.
Then last week Trump revealed plans to launch a social networking platform.
The new platform will be called ‘TRUTH Social’ and it is being created “to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech.”
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