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Trump’s Big Tech suits


Donald Trump is suing Twitter, Facebook, etc, on the basis of the claim that he’s being “censored.” Somebody just published an op-ed under his name that appears in the Wall Street Journal expounding on the theme that if Big Tech can censor THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES then they can certainly censor YOU TOO, which I’m not going to quote because I like to censor people like that.

This is frivolous litigation that isn’t going to go anywhere, and should get all the lawyers who signed on to it sanctioned. (Briefly, private companies that maintain social media platforms have a legal right to enforce their terms of service; calling such actions “censorship” is, from a legal perspective, nonsense. Legally, “censorship” means the government is wrongfully interfering with someone’s right to publish their views. Also too, if anybody wants to get all law talky, this is framed as a class action lawsuit, which doesn’t make a lick of sense either. What’s the class here, ex-presidents of the United States who have been banned from social media platforms?)

Of course this is all just basically another grift:

Former President Donald Trump took his fight with three massive tech companies to court, filing lawsuits that legal experts say are all but guaranteed to fail – even as they rally Republican voters, fundraisers and donors.

Trump revealed Wednesday that he is suing FacebookTwitter and Google, as well as their respective CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai, in class-action lawsuits.

Trump, who has a history of threatening legal action but not always following through, made the announcement at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, alongside two leaders from the America First Policy Institute, the pro-Trump nonprofit group that is supporting the lawsuits.

Shortly after the news conference wrapped, Trump’s political entities started sending out fundraising messages that touted the lawsuits in their appeals for money. One such text message, written as if it were coming from Trump himself, includes a link to his joint fundraising committee Save America, which also raises money for other Republican political initiatives.

Two things remain worth noting about this dog bites man story:

(1) The Republican creation of a Big Tech boogeyman is part and parcel of a politics of resentment, which is the only politics the party has. All the constant whinging about political correctness and cancel culture and Critical Race Theory is just a nonstop whine about how old white people are losing the culture wars. The claim that “the Left” is taking over not just the schools and Hollywood but now corporate America too reflects nothing more than that authoritarian theocratic ethno-nationalism in the service of plutocracy is actually quite unpopular among the rapidly increasing percentage of the population that isn’t both white and old. (As many people have noted, Republicans can now only win national elections if those elections are basically undemocratic. As fewer people have noted, even the rigged electoral game that allows them to do so wouldn’t be enough if more voters actually understood what policies Republicans actually advocate).

(2) The more important point here though is this: If it is appropriate to ban Donald Trump from these platforms, it’s actually appropriate to ban the expression of a lot of Republican party orthodoxy from these platforms, because the two things are the same. For example, anti-vaxxer junk science and climate change denialism are simply standard Republican talking points, the broadcast of which also happen to violate the terms of service of at least some of these social media platforms. So, for that matter, are fascistic calls to use violence to crush progressive protests of police murders etc.

This, it seems to me, is an under-appreciated feature of the present political political situation: that one of our two major parties is now a cesspool of insane conspiracy mongering, and that it remains basically impossible for the major media to report this in words of one syllable. Thus what should be the astounding fact that the undisputed leader of that party has been — appropriately! — banned from the biggest social media platforms for spouting libelous nonsense surprises no one, because we’ve simply gotten used to the fact that libelous nonsense and Republican party orthodoxy are now the same thing.

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