WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new lawsuit filed in an Ohio federal court alleges that the U.S. government is pressuring social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to block content about COVID-19 that is deemed “misinformation,” and claims that this practice amounts to censorship and a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The suit is brought by Scientist Mark Changizi, attorney Michael Senger, and stay-at-home father Daniel Kotzin, all of whom have had their Twitter accounts suspended or banned due to allegedly peddling COVID-19 falsehoods about lockdown measures and vaccines. Senger claimed that it was hypocritical of the White House to support free speech while working with social media companies that are not beholden to it.
“It’s difficult to overstate the federal government’s cynicism in pretending to respect the First Amendment rights of American citizens while explicitly working with a company whose CEO says it ‘is not to be bound by the First Amendment’ in silencing American citizens on the most widely-used platform for political discourse,” Senger said.
The lawsuit claims that statements made by the White House – which has urged social media owners to “stop amplifying untrustworthy content, disinformation, and misinformation, especially related to COVID-19, vaccinations, and elections” – as well as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy have resulted in the stifling of free speech online.
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The lawsuit – which names HHS, Murthy, and HHS Director Xavier Becerra as defendants – alleges that the aforementioned individuals and agencies “are not simply colluding with, but instrumentalizing Twitter and other technology companies to effectuate their goal of silencing opinions that diverge from the White House’s messaging on COVID-19.”
In addition, the lawsuit purports that social media platforms were compelled to follow the government’s censorship directives under pain of potential punishment such as fines and other penalties.
The New Civil Liberties Alliance – a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group, according to their website – is representing Changizi, Kotzin, and Senger in their case.