The Department of Justice has intervened in former President Donald Trump’s class action lawsuit against Big Tech for suspending his social media accounts to defend the constitutionality of Section 230.
Court filings, posted Monday by USA Today, reveal the DOJ is arguing it has an “unconditional right to intervene to defend” the internet communications law as always allowed in cases where a statute’s constitutionality is at issue.
In July, Trump sued Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for suspending his accounts after posts he made during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Trump brought the case in southern Florida; the technology firms have countered, arguing the case must be brought in northern California, where each of the platforms is based, USA Today noted. A judge ruled the case must be moved to that jurisdiction but the motion is still pending, the news outlet reported.
Section 230 is a subsection of the 1996 Communications and Decency Act which holds that websites are not liable for the content posted to their platforms.
The principle has helped fuel the rise of modern social media, USA Today noted.
But it’s also become the focus of more stringent scrutiny in recent years, with conservative activists and politicians asserting Section 230 unfairly shields social media platforms from culpability in cases when they moderate content — and has led to muffling — or eliminating — conservative voices.
President Joe Biden during his campaign supported revoking Section 230 but has since argued a new framework is needed for online content.
Big Tech companies counter that ending Section 230 would just create worse social media platforms and, in some cases, force them to suspend service altogether, USA Today reported.
Industry groups representing Big Tech in Washington have called for updated regulations but haven’t offered any details about what policies are favored by technology platforms, the news outlet reported.