(PresidentialInsider.com)- In what could become a historic next step in the fight against Big Tech censorship, a federal judge has signaled he will make Twitter explain itself in an upcoming hearing on whether it is truly a private company or if it is really a “state actor.”
Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, former Republican candidate for US Senate in Massachusetts, filed a lawsuit claiming that his First Amendment rights were violated when Twitter removed several of his tweets regarding voter fraud. Afterward it was determined that the tweets were deleted at the behest of employees within the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office.
According to Ayyadurai, that means that Twitter and the government are working “hand in glove” to silence political speech.
The federal judge hearing the case, Mark L. Wolf, a 1985 Reagan appointee, has so far made his intentions clear that Twitter must explain itself.
Twitter, along with other major social media companies, avoids lawsuits arising from content published on their platforms through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. But that broad immunity provided by CDA 230 may be coming to an end.
The court will ask Twitter to prove that it is not doing for the government what the government can’t do for itself—namely, silencing speech. If it were established that Twitter was acting on behalf of the government to delete speech it disagreed with, Twitter would no longer be classified as a private company, but as a “state actor,” and therefore be subject to much greater regulation. Not only that, they could no longer freely delete content.
In several challenges to CDA 230 immunity over the years, almost every court has upheld social media companies’ special status. But this year’s case could change all that. It’s the first time a case has suggested that the Constitution trumps the law and that a private company like Twitter could be considered a “state actor” in civil rights law.
While some observers are worried that Big Tech giants would applaud the end of CDA 230 since it could effectively eliminate the arrival of new competition, the case does represent the most credible challenge to their undisputed immunity yet. And any effort to crack down on attempts at silencing conservatives is an encouraging one.