EFF joined forces with Protect Democracy and Cooley LLP to represent five advocacy organizations suing President Trump and others in his administration for an unconstitutional executive order threatening their ability to receive accurate information free from government censorship. The plaintiffs are Common Cause, Free Press, Maplight, Rock the Vote, and Voto Latino.
Trump signed the “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship” in May of 2020, after a well-publicized fight with Twitter. First, the president tweeted false claims about the reliability of online voting, and then Twitter decided to append a link to “get the facts about mail-in ballots.” Days later, Trump signed the order, which tasks government agencies with concocting a process for deciding whether any platform’s decision to moderate user-generated content was done with “good faith.” If found to be in bad faith, the order then asks for social media companies to lose millions of dollars in government advertising, as well as their legal protections under Section 230. Section 230 is the law that allows online services—like Twitter, Facebook, and others—to host and moderate diverse forums of users’ speech without being liable for their users’ content.
In the lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on August 27, 2020, the plaintiffs argue that the executive order is designed to chill social media companies from moderating the president’s content in a way that he doesn’t like—particularly correcting his false statements about elections. In fact, after the order, Trump tweeted multiple falsehoods about voting without any flagging by Twitter.