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Tuesday, Apr 13, 2021

Twitter Files Lawsuit Against Texas Attorney General, Alleges Political Retaliation Over Trump Ban

Twitter Files Lawsuit Against Texas Attorney General, Alleges Political Retaliation Over Trump Ban

Former US President Donald Trump was permanently booted off social media giant Twitter in early January in the wake of the deadly Capitol riot that claimed the lives of several individuals, including law enforcement officials. At the time, Twitter explained Trump’s removal was caused by violations of the company’s Glorification of Violence policy.

Twitter has filed a lawsuit against Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, alleging that the Texan is using his office to allegedly retaliate against the company for its January decision to remove the former US president from its platform.

The lawsuit, which was first reported by Politico late Monday, is requesting a judge to issue a temporary restraining order preventing Paxton and his office from enforcing a demand that seeks to obtain documents from Twitter that outline the company’s decision-making process for banning users.

“Twitter seeks to stop AG Paxton from unlawfully abusing his authority as the highest law-enforcement officer of the State of Texas to intimidate, harass, and target Twitter in retaliation for Twitter’s exercise of its First Amendment rights,” the company wrote in its Monday filing, Politico reported.

“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.”

In the filing, Twitter explained that the company had tried to establish a deal with Paxton’s office to outline limits of the probe, but that neither of the parties were able to come to an agreement on the matter.

Additionally, the social media giant indicated that providing the Texas office with “volumes of highly confidential documents” on its practices would ultimately compromise its abilities to moderate content.

The investigation by Paxton’s office, which is the root cause of Twitter’s lawsuit, was announced on January 13, and called for five Big Tech companies - Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Apple - to hand over documents that would offer insight into the companies’ content moderation policies.

“For years, these Big Tech companies have silenced voices in the social media sphere and shut down competing companies and platforms. It has only grown worse in recent months,” the announcement from Paxton’s office notes, before touching on Trump’s removal from the platform.

In a statement issued to The Hill, an unidentified Twitter spokesperson remarked that Paxton is “misusing the powers of his office to infringe on Twitter’s First Amendment rights” and is attempting to “silence free speech.”

“As we’ve repeatedly stated, and recent research underscores, we enforce the Twitter Rules judiciously and impartially across our service," the individual noted.

The Monday lawsuit was filed in a federal court in northern California.

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