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Experts say Trump’s social media lawsuits are likely doomed

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Legal experts and First Amendment scholars say former President Donald Trump’s class-action lawsuits announced Wednesday against Facebook, Twitter, Google, and their CEOs are unlikely to go far.

The big picture: That, according to some of these experts, suggests Trump’s chief aim is to fire up his supporters and fundraise off of their anger over what they see as censorship by Big Tech.


“This is not a lawsuit. It’s a fundraising grift,” said Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, a progressive advocacy group that often targets Big Tech.

  • “There is no chance Trump’s lawsuits will do any better than the dozens that have preceded it, and Trump and his lawyers surely know that,” said Eric Goldman, associate dean and professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.
  • “Which raises the obvious question: if Trump doesn’t care if he wins in court, why did he bring the lawsuits at all?”

The Trump campaign did immediately start reaching out to supporters for fundraising after the former president revealed the lawsuits in a press conference Wednesday morning.

  • Trump’s joint fundraising committee sent out a text saying, “Pres Trump: I am SUING Facebook & Twitter for UNCONSTITUTIONAL CENSORSHIP,” adding “5X-IMPACT on all gifts!”

Details: The central argument made by the plaintiff is that social media platforms are “state actors,” and thus should be bound by the First Amendment’s free speech protections. First Amendment experts quickly dismissed the claim as destined to fail.

  • “The First Amendment simply protects citizens from government censorship,” said Syracuse University associate professor Roy Gutterman. “Social media platforms exercise great power, but they are not a branch of government.”

“In what constitutional universe can it be the case that Trump wasn’t a state actor when he blocked critics from his social media accounts but the social media companies were state actors when they blocked him?,” tweeted Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

  • The Knight First Amendment Institute in 2017 filed a lawsuit on behalf of several people who were blocked by Trump on Twitter. A lower court sided with the plaintiff and argued that that Trump’s Twitter account constituted” as a “public forum” under the First Amendment, so he couldn’t block people.

Trump’s suits also suggest that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that gives tech platforms immunity for material third-party users post or say on their sites, is unconstitutional. Experts say the reference to Section 230 is irrelevant to the case.

  • “Section 230 can never be a defense to Trump’s allegations of First Amendment violations,”said Goldman. “Section 230 is a statute, which cannot modify the Constitution (amending the Constitution requires a more elaborate set of procedures; Congress can’t do it alone).”
  • “So the defendants in Trump’s cases will not assert Section 230 defenses. They will instead argue that they are not state actors  The courts will agree that the services aren’t state actors. This is not a close call.”

The big picture: As Axios has previously noted, the former president has filed many lawsuits throughout his career, but he has rarely taken cases all the way to court, and hasn’t won many of the cases that he has.

  • In fact, some of his lawsuits have actually led to historic legal precedents set by courts that create stronger First Amendment protections long-term.

The bottom line: “This is not the first time social media companies have been faced with these arguments, and in the past, they have won,” said Gutterman.

Source: https://www.axios.com/trump-social-media-lawsuits-doomed-experts-a9a021c7-fa78-47f3-9732-b99309c464ca.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Sara Fischer

Humble Bundle creator brings antitrust lawsuit against Valve over Steam

The Valve logo, as seen in an etched design at its offices.

Enlarge / The Valve logo, as seen in an etched design at its offices. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

Indie developer (and Humble Indie Bundle originator Wolfire Games has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Steam creator Valve, saying that the company is wielding Steam’s monopoly power over the PC gaming market to extract “an extraordinarily high cut from nearly every sale that passes through its store—30%.”

An unbreakable monopoly

The lawsuit, filed in a Washington state federal court, centers on what it considers an illegal tying of the Steam gaming platform (which provides game library management, social networking, achievement tracking, Steam Workshop mods, etc.) and the Steam game store (which processes online payments and delivers a copy of the game). After years of growth, the vast majority of PC gamers are locked in to the Steam platform thanks to “immense network effects” and the high switching costs to move to a new PC platform, the suit argues.

That makes the platform “a must-have for game publishers,” who need access to the players on Steam to succeed. But games that use the Steam platform also have to be sold on the Steam Store, where Valve takes its 30 percent cut of all sales. By leveraging its monopoly platform power into a “gatekeeper role” for the store, Valve “wield[s] extreme power over publishers of PC Desktop Games” that leads to a “small but significant and non-transitory increase in price” for developers compared to a truly competitive market, the suit argues.

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2021/04/humble-bundle-creator-brings-antitrust-lawsuit-against-valve-over-steam/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Kyle Orland

Intel ordered to pay $2.18 billion in patent lawsuit

6e377550-7bfe-11eb-bd7e-9a4bc9d74213Intel has been ordered to pay $2.18 billion dollars after losing a lawsuit over two decade-old patents, Bloomberg has reported. A jury ruled that Intel infringed patents related to clock frequencies and voltage owned by a company called VLSI LLC. &qu…

Source: https://www.engadget.com/intel-ordered-to-pay-2-18-billion-in-patent-lawsuit-093513891.html
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Apple reportedly took years to drop a supplier that used underage labor

32066500-1493-11eb-8ffe-aac9645d9dd1On Tuesday, The Washington Post and the Tech Transparency Project published an investigative report on one of Apple’s supply partners. The two say Apple, and several other companies, source parts from a Chinese supplier that allegedly uses forced Mus…

Source: https://www.engadget.com/apple-underage-suyin-labor-report-195744992.html
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Judge temporarily halts Trump’s TikTok download ban

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A federal judge halted the Trump administration’s executive order to ban downloads of Chinese-owned video-sharing platform TikTok from U.S. mobile-app stores on Sunday, hours before it was set to take effect.

The decision: Washington, D.C., District Judge Carl Nichols granted TikTok’s request for a temporary injunction against the ban, set to take effect at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. It’s the latest development in an ongoing legal battle between TikTok and the Trump administration over the president’s efforts to restrict the app’s U.S. operations.

President Donald Trump ordered the TikTok ban in August, citing fears U.S. users’ personal information could fall into the hands of Chinese government officials. TikTok — owned-by Chinese tech giant ByteDance — sued the administration over the move, arguing the government violated its rights and that Trump’s actions “clearly reflect a political decision to campaign on an anti-China platform.”

The backdrop: The court ruling comes as the Trump administration separately conducts a national security review of a deal that would give U.S. companies Walmart and Oracle a stake in the popular app. Trump appeared to approve the proposal between ByteDance and the other companies last weekend, but on Monday said he would not support it unless Walmart and Oracle gained a controlling stake in the company. The deal the companies put forth would give Walmart and Oracle minority stakes in the new TikTok global.

TikTok has maintained throughout that it would not provide any U.S. user data to the Chinese government. The company has said its proposed deal with U.S. companies should satisfy the Trump administration’s national security concerns about the app.

What’s next: The contents of the ruling remain under seal. The two parties are set to review them Monday to determine if the full ruling can be unsealed. They then will meet by Wednesday at the latest to propose a schedule for next steps in the case, which will weigh whether Trump’s executive orders on TikTok violated the company’s rights.

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/27/judge-temporarily-halts-trumps-tiktok-download-ban-422416
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Cristiano Lima