Friday, April 23, 2021

Twitter sues Texas AG, alleging political retaliation for Trump ban

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Twitter is not happy that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opened an investigation into the company after this bans former president Trump. CBS News reports Twitter sued Paxton in federal court, alleging that the GA violates the First Amendment by attempting to punish the social network for exercising its free speech rights on the content it hosts. Paxton was using the “full weight” of his position as retaliation for editorial choices he didn’t like, Twitter lawyers said.

Paxton himself had claimed that the Twitter ban “chills free speech” and accused several tech giants of “apparently coordinated misrepresentation” of Trump after the Capitol riot. He echoed frequent conservative beliefs that Twitter, Facebook, Google and others are shattering the spirit of the First Amendment with a supposed bias against right-wing views. These sites should be treated as public spaces and compelled to post any otherwise legal content in accordance with these beliefs.

Twitter can have a strong case, however. As a private company, Twitter has the right to determine what it does and what it does not post. It could also indicate a long history of refusing to ban Trump despite repeated violations of its policies, trust labels or limitations on specific tweets. It wasn’t a company that rushed to ban a dissenting opinion, in other words.

Paxton’s office hadn’t formally commented as we wrote this, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he fought hard to protect the investigation. He could rally political supporters at a time when Paxton himself faces scandals, such as accusations corruption and abuse of power. A successful investigation could also lead to punitive actions against Twitter, such as fines or an order to restore Trump’s account.

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