Section 230

D.C. Circuit Rejects Laura Loomer’s First Amendment Lawsuit Against Tech Giants

People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken September 27, 2013. (Reuters/Kacper Pempel)

The D.C. Circuit has refused to revive a First Amendment lawsuit filed by a conservative blogger against Twitter, Apple, Facebook, and Google for allegedly conspiring to suppress conservative views.

The lawsuit was first brought in 2018 by blogger Laura Loomer,  and Freedom Watch, a political interest group. In the complaint, they argued that the tech companies were “quasi-state actors,” and as such, could be sued for constitutional violations.

See also: Laura Loomer Sues Facebook for Defamation, Requesting More Than $3 Billion in Punitive Damages 

The complaint also accused the tech companies of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, which broadly prohibits companies from forming anti-competitive agreements, or engaging in unilateral conduct that monopolizes the marketplace. Loomer and Freedom Watch argued that the companies worked together to “intentionally and willfully suppress politically conservative content.”  

After U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden dismissed the lawsuit on the basis that private online service providers were not “state actors,” Loomer and Freedom Watch appealed his decision. In a 26-page brief filed last December, they urged the D.C. Circuit to overturn McFadden’s ruling.

“In a shockingly short period of time, social media has evolved to be the primary driver of culture and society that every individual, including the honorable judges on this panel, carry on their mobile phones everywhere they go,” the plaintiff’s brief said. “Appellees are not allowed to unilaterally control the tide of the nation, and the world’s debate and discourse in their own favor.”

On May 27th, the D.C. Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision to dismiss the case.

“Freedom Watch’s First Amendment claim fails because it does not adequately allege that the Platforms can violate the First Amendment. In general, the First Amendment ‘prohibits only governmental abridgment of speech,’” the D.C. Circuit ruled. 

Loomer is not the only conservative who believes that social media companies are biased against them. On May 28th, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at discouraging social media companies from engaging in “selective censorship.” The executive order came just days after Twitter added a fact-checking label to one of the president’s tweets.

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