“I do not get involved in any way with social media,” he said. “I don’t have an account. I don’t tweet, I don’t Facebook, and I don’t pay attention to that.”
In addition to the States of Missouri and Louisiana, the plaintiffs include two prominent epidemiologists who questioned the government’s handling of the pandemic, Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff; Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a psychiatry professor dismissed by the University of California, Irvine, for refusing to have a Covid vaccination; Jill Hines, a director of Health Freedom Louisiana, an organization that has been accused of disinformation; and Jim Hoft, the founder of Gateway Pundit, a right-wing news site that claims in its promotions that “for 15 years, we’ve been fighting Big Tech and Leftists who want to shut us down.”
Jenin Younes, a lawyer with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, an organization representing the individual plaintiffs, said the government had sought to sidestep free-speech rights by forcing private companies to take action on discourse that is otherwise constitutionally protected.
“It can’t use third parties to do what it can’t do,” she said in an interview in the organization’s Washington office.
There is no question the Biden administration has used the bully pulpit on any number of issues, including urging Americans to get vaccinated and calling on the platforms to restrict accounts that sought to dissuade them.
The legal challenge for the plaintiffs is to show that the government used its legal or regulatory power to punish the companies when they did not comply, which they often did not.
“No, this isn’t feasible/we don’t do this,” one Twitter executive wrote, according to one of the Twitter Files, after Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who led the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, urged the company to remove accounts posting information about committee staff members.