Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington dismissed a lawsuit that claimed major tech companies including Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Apple worked together to “intentionally and wilfully suppress politically conservative content” online. According to Bloomberg, the federal appeals court said nonprofit group Freedom Watch and Laura Loomer, a right-wing YouTube personality, failed to provide enough evidence to prove that these companies “have entered into an illegal agreement to refuse to deal with conservative news and media outlets,” as the lawsuit claimed.
Originally, Loomer and Freedom Watch filed a case against the companies for violating antitrust laws, which, according to the Federal Trade Commission, outlaw “every contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade,” and any “monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy or combination to monopolize.” It also bans “unfair methods of competition” and “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.”
The suit tried to present suspending or totally banning the social media accounts of known conservative commentators and groups as proof that big tech companies had conspired to promote left-wing politics and suppress conservative views. In the original filing, Freedom Watch alleged that its growth on social media platforms had diminished or come to “a complete halt” since the 2016 election, when it alleges this anti-conservative bias became more prominent. Loomer claimed she was unlawfully suspended from Twitter and Facebook for 30 days after she said that Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar favoured Sharia law and is “anti-Jewish.”
The lawsuit also alleged that the companies violated the First Amendment, but the appeals court pointed out that the companies cannot violate free speech rights because they are not government entities.
Today’s decision to dismiss the appeal came from district court judge Trevor McFadden, who was appointed by President Donald Trump. Two judges on the appellate panel were appointed by Republican presidents, and one by a Democrat, Bloomberg points out.
Still, the lawyer for Freedom Watch and Loomer, Larry Klayman, said he would take their lawsuit to the Supreme Court if necessary, and that he believed the judges were influenced by Trump’s threat to regulate or shut down social media companies over what he claims is anti-conservative bias. Trump’s threat was in response to Twitter adding fact-checking links on two of his tweets in which he claimed there would be widespread voter fraud if mail-in ballots were sent out nationwide this coming election.