Trump tries to force Twitter to let him start tweeting again

The former president asks a US court to issue a preliminary injunction that would restore access to his Twitter account.

Edward Moyer Senior Editor
Edward Moyer is a senior editor at CNET and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. ¶ For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
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Edward Moyer
2 min read
Trump speaks at a rally in Georgia

Trump speaks at a rally in Georgia this past September.

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Donald Trump wants a federal court to make Twitter give him back his bullhorn. In a late Friday legal filing, the ex-president asked a US district judge to grant a preliminary injunction that would restore his account while his lawsuit against Twitter wends its way through the courts.

Friday's filing argues that Twitter is "censoring" Trump, has too much power over political discourse in the US and had been "coerced" into the ban by Trump's opponents in Congress, The Washington Post reported.

Twitter banned Trump on Jan. 8, two days after a mob of his supporters stormed the US Capitol building in a riot that left several people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Twitter said the ban was "due to the risk of further incitement of violence." In July, Trump sued over the Twitter ban.

Trump's use of Twitter redefined politics, letting him sidestep mainstream media to try to take hold of the political narrative. His account had 88 million followers, the Post noted, and his reach has been significantly reduced since the ban.

One researcher found that the week after the ban, online misinformation about election fraud fell by 73%. However, some Trump tweets that were blocked over election misinformation continue to circulate on other platforms.

Twitter wasn't alone in booting Trump. Facebook and Google-owned YouTube also kicked him off their sites after the Capitol riots, over fears about the incitement of real-world violence. The former president sued those platforms alongside Twitter, alleging censorship and First Amendment violations. Trump has for some time claimed without evidence that the companies discriminate against the right, a charge the firms have repeatedly denied.

"Are we doing something according to political ideology or viewpoints? We are not. Period," Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said in the past. "We do not look at content with regards to political viewpoint or ideology. We look at behavior."

Lawsuits that allege censorship and that argue social media companies violate the First Amendment when they remove posts or ban users have repeatedly been rejected by courts across the country. The First Amendment applies to the government, not to private companies like social media sites. 

Twitter declined to comment about Trump's Friday legal filing, as did Trump's lead counsel on the case.