Twitter Inc. sued Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to shut down an investigation of its moderation practices that he started after the social media giant banned former President Donald Trump.Twitter described the Republican attorney general’s probe as nothing more than an attempt to “intimidate, harass and target” the company in retaliation for its exercise of the First Amendment right to free speech.
Paxton announced his investigation of Twitter on Jan. 13, five days after the company pulled the plug on Trump after he promoted claims of rigged elections and disparaged his rivals. Twitter said it decided to deplatform Trump after protesters had stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 because his tweets had violated the company’s policy against promotion of violence.
The company asked the court to put a halt to Paxton’s request for volumes of “highly confidential documents concerning Twitter’s internal content moderation processes.”
“Twitter sought for weeks to reach an agreement with AG Paxton that would put reasonable limits on the scope of this demand, but to no avail,” the company said. “Instead, AG 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.”
Paxton’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Paxton also opened investigations of YouTube and Facebook Inc., which also suspended Trump’s accounts, and Apple Inc. and Google, which he also accused of anti-conservative bias. In its lawsuit, Twitter didn’t provide any new details about its decision to boot Trump. Rather it maintained its right, under the First Amendment, “to make decisions about what content to disseminate through its platform. This right specifically includes the discretion to remove or otherwise restrict access to Tweets, profiles, or other content posted to Twitter,” it said.
The case is Twitter, Inc. v. Paxton, 21-cv-01644, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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