Twitter Sues, Saying Texas Is Retaliating for Trump Ban

Attorney general launched investigation into tech companies
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 9, 2021 2:15 PM CST
Twitter Sues, Saying Texas Is Retaliating for Trump Ban
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, shown last fall, wants documents from the tech companies he sued.   (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Twitter has filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, claiming the Republican used his office to retaliate against it for banning the account of former President Trump following the riot at the US Capitol. Days after the deadly January insurrection, Paxton announced an investigation into Twitter and four other major technology companies for what he called "the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President." The attorney general's office demanded that the companies produce a variety of records related to their content moderation policies and troves of internal communications. Twitter responded Monday with a federal lawsuit alleging Paxton is seeking to punish it for taking Trump's account offline—a decision the social media company says is protected free speech, the AP reports. It asks a judge to declare the decision to be under the ambit of the First Amendment and to, in essence, halt Paxton's investigation.

"Paxton made clear that he will use the full weight of his office, including his expansive investigatory powers, to retaliate against Twitter for having made editorial decisions with which he disagrees," lawyers for the company wrote in the suit filed in a northern California court. Paxton's office did not immediately comment. Twitter’s counterpunch comes as states, in addition to federal lawmakers and governments outside the US, are moving against tech companies they see as having amassed too much power in the past decade. This includes antitrust and anti-monopoly regulation, internet privacy laws and attempts to regulate how platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and others moderate their sites. In December, Paxton led 10 Republican attorneys general in suing Google, accusing it of running an illegal digital-advertising monopoly in cahoots with Facebook.

(More Twitter stories.)

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