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US nonprofits sue Trump administration over social media executive order

Five nonprofit organizations, including Rock the Vote, Voto Latino, Common Cause, Free Press, and Maplight, have jointly filed suit in the US District Court of the Northern District of California against the Trump administration in connection with US President Donald Trump’s executive order from May expanding the government’s power over social media organizations.

Trump passed the executive order in the days following Twitter’s decision to fact-check one of his tweets about mail-in voting. The nonprofits filing the suit Thursday argued that the executive order is unlawful and directly contradicts their missions:

Plaintiffs are non-profit organizations that rely on and encourage social media platforms and other intermediary online platforms to raise voter awareness, increase voter turnout, promote political discourse for traditionally underrepresented groups, and combat misinformation on online platforms, including with respect to voting. The effect of the Executive Order—encouraging the spread of misinformation about vote-by-mail, impeding voter registration initiatives, discouraging broader access to voting, and encouraging the spread of other kinds of misinformation and harmful content—flies in the face of the critical purposes Plaintiffs serve, frustrates their missions, and will require them to divert scarce resources to combat misinformation.

The nonprofits also argue that the executive order was passed in retaliation for Twitter’s decision to fact-check Trump’s tweet, thereby violating the First Amendment rights of Twitter and similar platforms who decide to strive for factual accuracy. They state that impeding these rights of such platforms also impedes their rights due to their reliance on the platforms.

The parties request in their suit that the court find the executive order invalid and unconstitutional. The DC-based Center for Democracy and Technology also has a suit pending against the Trump administration for the same executive order.