Class action lawsuit accuses Apple, other tech firms of suppressing political content

“Apple and a number of other tech companies are being sued by a watchdog organization over claims of content censorship, following after President Donald Trump publicly accused online services of bias against republican news outlets and other publications,” AppleInsider reports. “Filed on Wednesday by Freedom Watch in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the lawsuit targets Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, as an attempted class action suit on behalf of ‘all politically conservative organizations’ and individuals who have ‘experienced illegal suppression and/or censorship of their media.'”

“The suit goes on to describe some of the ways the four tech firms are apparently suppressing content, including the demonetization of accounts on YouTube, President Trump’s recent claim of search result bias, an article about how Facebook’s news curators ‘routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers,’ and Twitter’s ‘shadowbanning’ of political content,” AppleInsider reports.

“The suit accuses the companies of violating sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, and discrimination in violation of D.C. Code 2-1403.16 (DCHRA), the latter of which concerns discrimination based on 20 different traits of people living and working in the District of Columbia, in this case specifically ‘Political Affiliation.’ Lastly, the fourth cause of action is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, in the belief social networks are public places and that this constitutes a failure to regulate the freedom of speech,” AppleInsider reports. “As a prayer for relief, the suit demands damages in excess of $1 billion, as well as injunctive relief. A trial by jury is also demanded.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Freedom Watch’s press release dated August 30, 2018, verbatim:

Freedom Watch Files Class Action Complaint Against Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple And Instagram For Alleged Antitrust Violations And Other Illegalities
Coordinated Discrimination by Media Giants Against Conservatives Alleged As a Sherman 1 Agreement in Restraint of Trade

Today, Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch and a former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor who was on the trial team that broke up the AT&T monopoly during Reagan’s administration, announced filing a class action lawsuit which, among many counts, alleges social media giants Google/YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Instagram conspired by entering into an explicit or tacit agreement, in parallel to each other, to restrain trade in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. See Freedom Watch v. Google/You Tube et. al (Civil Action Number 18-cv-2030, U.S. District Court for District of Columbia).

Complaint alleges intent and effect of this agreement in restraint of trade is to quash and/or limit advocacy by conservative and pro-Trump public interest groups, advocates and others to further leftist anti-conservative agendas of these social media giants and help bring down the Trump presidency, nullifying the vote for the president by millions of citizens. These alleged illegal and anticompetitive actions are an integral part of the so-called “resistance” to remove President Trump and install a leftist government over the 50 states.

This class action complaint can be found at www.freedomwatchusa.org.

The complaint is first of its kind in the wake of mounting proof that social media giants are illegally restricting free speech of conservatives, and promoting free speech from leftist sources such as CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and others:

“Our inert and compromised Attorney General Jeff Sessions is unwilling to take strong action through his Antitrust Division as he has become the darling of the left given his refusal to prosecute Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, prominent Democrats and others who’ve allegedly committed crimes, while giving Robert Mueller carte blanche to proceed with his ‘witch hunt,'” said Klayman.

“Freedom Watch seeks to right this discrimination against conservatives by social media giants. Our complaint asks for injunctive relief and over a billion dollars in damages, including punitive damages, pales in comparison to what the Commission of the European Union has already levied against such social media giants as Google for alleged ruthless tactics in stifling competition.”

Source: Freedom Watch

SEE ALSO:
White House probes Google after President Trump accuses it of left-wing bias – August 29, 2018
President Trump attacks ‘left-wing’ Google search results – August 28, 2018
The Boston Globe Editorial Board: Break up Google – June 16, 2018
Bernstein: Google to pay Apple $3 billion this year to remain the default search engine on iPhones and iPads – August 14, 2017
James Damore: Why I was fired by Google – August 12, 2017
European Union hits Google with record $2.73 billion fine for abusing internet search monopoly – June 27, 2017
Google’s Eric Schmidt wore staff badge at Hillary Clinton’s ‘victory’ party – November 16, 2016
WikiLeaks emails show extremely close relationship between Clinton campaign and Google’s Eric Schmidt – November 1, 2016
Eric Schmidt-backed startup stealthily working to put Hillary Clinton in the White House – October 9, 2015
Obama to reward Google’s Schmidt with Cabinet post? – December 5, 2012
Google outfoxes U.S. FCC – April 17, 2012
Google Street View cars grabbed locations of cellphones, computers – July 26, 2011
Consumer Watchdog calls for probe of Google’s inappropriate relationship with Obama administration – January 25, 2011
FCC cites Android ‘openness’ as reason for neutered ‘Net Neutrality’ – December 22, 2010
U.S. FCC approves so-called ‘net-neutrality’ regulations – December 21, 2010
Wired: Google, CIA Invest in ‘future’ of Web monitoring – July 29, 2010

46 Comments

    1. When free speech crosses the line into hate speech that invites violence, these companies have a duty to their shareholders and to the public at large to stop it.

      Facebook is facing huge lawsuits for not doing enough to curb abuses of its platform.

      For tech companies, it’s a lose-lose scenario.

      1. There’s no such thing as “hate speech”, it’s a leftist invention used to hide their censorpship and hate for anti-communist, anti-PC, pro-American, Christian speech.

        1. Bullshit, Nick. Anti-communist or christian views are not being axed. Promotion of violence is.
          Gawd! Will you believers stop being such snowflakes? The reality is that it’s pretty much required to be a christian – or say you are – for any serious political office in the US.

        2. You’re addled.

          Alex Jones is a perfect example of hate speech, misinformation, and speech that is intended to disrupt the public discourse. And, he does it for nothing more than to make a buck. Deeply sick.

          1. On a related note, just within the last hour a judge in Austin ruled that the lawsuit by the Sandy Hook families against Alex Jones and InfoWars can go forward. He also refused to dismiss the suit against InfoWars by a man falsely accused of being the Parkland shooter.

    2. Anyone notice there was no problem with Facebook, Google etc etc in terms of expression, censorship, ‘fake news’ etc between 2008 and 2016? Until someone (or group of someones) LOST an election and then it became a priority to control the message.

      1. Or maybe, there is a sleazy con-artist in the White House attempting to tear down any institution that might threaten him. The Trump right is positively Orwellian in its attempt to alter that very nature of truth.

        Criticism is not fake news. Holding a public figure accountable for his own statements and actions is not bias. It’s part of the system of checks and balances built into our society. Tear it down and you wind up with an authoritarian banana republic.

      2. You mean it went something like this…

        2008-2016
        “Obama isn’t American! He’s a Muslim!!! He was born in Kenya!!!”, “Hillary is a criminal!!!”, “Obamacare has death panels!!!”, etc…

        2008-2016
        Don’t worry, the majority of Americans aren’t stupid enough to believe these obvious lies. Only a few fringe lunatics will buy into all of this bullshit. Our democracy is safe.

        2016
        Trump elected President.

        2017-and on
        Holy crap! Maybe we should do something about controlling all of the obvious lies and manipulations of facts being posted online! Apparently, the majority of Americans aren’t capable of discerning between truth and lies.

    3. The first amendment only applies to Congress (and via the 14th Amendment to state, county, and city governments). It has no bearing on whether private organizations do, or do not, restrict free speech.

      1. Pretty much this.

        The Constitution and it’s Amendments are the framework for our government and are expressly intended to limit the power and reach of the government… meaning those who run it. Applying it to private citizens (or their businesses) was never its intended purpose. (That purpose been perverted almost since it’s inception, but that’s a another discussion.)

        For all those who support this notion by Freedom Watch, let me ask you this.

        Would you allow someone who disagrees with you to come into your home and say anything they pleased, regardless off how repulsive or offensive it may be?

        What would you think if you were compelled by the State to do so?

        What you think if you could not remove such people from your home and property?

        THAT is what Freedom Watch wants to do.

        “Freedom” Watch, my ass.

      2. That is why they are invoking the Sherman Act (enacted to try to reign in monopolies). This is interesting from a legal perspective, but they will have to prove that there was collusion between all these companies, which does not fit with the narrative we have heard so far. In addition, even they can can clear that hurdle, it is likely that the first amendment will trump (no pun intended) the Sherman Act. My conclusion, this is just a publicity stunt.

  1. Headline should be “Dimwith Alt-Right Political Poser Calls on Justice Department to Nationalize Social Media.”

    Don’t mainstream conservatives realize that if the f’ing Federal Government can mandate content on Apple, Twitter, and Facebook, it can do the same for Breitbart and Fox News, too? If them, why not require “equal” treatment for Trump on personal Facebook pages and in private emails? The First Amendment applies to everybody, or it applies to nobody.

    The Ministry of Truth raises its ugly head, and the sheeple just sigh and let the Constitution drop in the dustbin.

          1. This is NOT about progressive or conservatiive political views. It IS about hatred and promoting violence. And most of that comes from the far right. And note – I say far right… not conservative. I’m happy to sit down with a thinking conservative.

            And Nick… do you have a daughter between about 5 and 10. Please send me her email so I can tell her what I want to do to her. No? Oh, you’re going to censor me?

            1. All this so-called progress in the last thousand years and everything is still about violence and threats of violence. I have an idea that this is all about mortality, tribalism and inheritance. We can’t eliminate tribalism, an inherent trait of the species. We can target inheritance, using science’s newfound tools to debunk dangerous stereotypes. And there seems new hope that we can push back mortality, by arresting the cellular ageing process. Science can at last triumph over social psychology by essentially ending death. If you know that you will live to see several generations of your offspring, your choices will be profoundly different. It wouldn’t necessarily end oligarchy, but it could end war.

      1. Hmmm…let’s see.
        Progressive from the noun progress: a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage: not backward looking. Further meaning: to advance: adapt to circumstances: evolve:
        You guys are making a shibboleth out of ‘progressive’ in defiance of common sense, your own future and the way life on this planet works.
        To paraphrase MDN:
        You’re still making buggy whips?
        Hah. You can keep your closed minded club of future political and dinosaur-like irrelevance.
        Where is Canute when you need him?

    1. No one said anything about “mandating content” you fork-tongued leftist. According to the SJWs, the First Amendment doesn’t apply to anyone to the right of Chairman Mao. The PC thought police have met their match in President Tump who understands the threat posed by progressive control freaks. Their censorship fetish is just the first step towards reeducation camps and firing squads, hopefully their monopolies will be broken up first.

          1. The millennials are young. Give ’em time, and they’ll come to feel as strongly entitled as any other self-identified group. Not yet sure what they’ll feel entitled to, though. Free wi-fi, maybe? Identity politics is a thing, and that’s a bummer for the older generations, who feel our world-view slipping away, replaced fifteen years from now with a “whatever” philosophy dominated by consumerist tropes and a triumphant return of globalism. Better sign up for that Chinese-language class soon..

      1. Nick,

        Yes, they are talking about mandating content. What else do you call it when someone files a lawsuit to require the Federal Justice Department (or a Federal Judge-for-life if DOJ doesn’t act) to force a private company to run more stories favorable to the Government? That sort of authoritarian overreach is exactly why we have a prohibition in the Constitution on government infringement of belief, speech, press, association, assembly, and petition.

        If Uncle Sam can “supervise” one American resident or company, it can supervise us all. Then God help us.

        How would you have reacted if an Obama supporter had filed suit against Rush Limbaugh to prevent him from screening, criticizing, or hanging up on calls from liberals, or against The National Enquirer for refusing to print unsolicited articles supporting Senator Clinton? That’s the just the reverse side of this lawsuit.

    2. There is a distinct difference between a news outlet and a social media platform which is in the complaint. The complaint alleges that these various social media platforms have become public forums. If the courts regard these massive organization services as public forums, then they have to adhere to free speech regulations. Because they are favoring left political speech or right political speech, there are all kinds of potential anti-trust issues.

      As for hate speech, there is no legal definition of hate speech nor is there a 1st Amendment except for it. Hate speech, as is evidenced by some of the posts here and on social media, is primarily used by the left to shut down debate and critiques of anything beside white heterosexual males. I’m black so don’t even think of accusing of some kind of white supremacy nonsense. This is just an objective observation.

      Hate speech is nonsense standard that is unequally applied and these platforms are unable to define. This is the reason why people like the new New York Times writer can tweet calling for the death of white men and Twitter snoozes but when a conservative black woman says the exact same thing except exchange “white” for “black”, she gets immediately banned – proving the point for why she did in the first place.

      1. “If the courts regard these massive organization services as public forums, then they have to adhere to free speech regulations.”

        Says who? The First Amendment prohibits the government, and those acting on behalf of the government, from infringing a laundry list of freedoms enjoyed by all non-government actors. It does not define or exempt “public forums” from that prohibition. Alleging otherwise in a publicity-stunt lawsuit does not make it so.

        As one Supreme Court Justice pointed out, the Amendment begins “Congress shall make no law” that infringes those rights, and “no law” means NO law. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act permitted the Roosevelt Administration to split up NBC Radio in 1943, but if the Government had tried to regulate the political content of NBC broadcasts, the Constitution would have outranked the statute.

        Besides which, in order to characterize the social media as “public forums,” a court would have to impose that status on private communications media that quite specifically deny in their Terms of Service that they are open in any way, shape, or form. If Google News is a public forum, why isn’t Fox News (or at least its website)? Why not your personal Facebook page if it is visible to the public? Or not?

        Creeping statism starts with suppressing unpopular speakers and expands from there.

  2. This law suit is inappropriate and doomed to fail. Apple, Google, Facebook and others do not create the news. They cannot help it if the vast majority news that comes their way has a left wing spin. They should not be forced to search for news that portrays the President in a positive light. That is exactly what you DO NOT want news aggregators doing. Choosing news. Ever.

    1. I’ve been an MDN reader for years, and I can’t think of an instance when I’ve disagreed with you. But in this case I respectfully do disagree with your post.

      Nobody is asking a news aggregator or distributor to actively search for news with a certain point of view or ideology; this lawsuit has to do with the purposeful SUPPRESION of news with a certain point of view or ideology. If you don’t find that dangerous, then I don’t know how to explain it to you — and I promise that I’m not saying that with any condescension.

      1. It may be dangerous, but far less dangerous than giving the Government (DOJ or a Federal Judge) a free hand to review media outlet content and punish “bias” against the Government. We all have the freedom to choose not to use Facebook, Twitter, Google, or Apple podcasts. There are plenty of alternatives, albeit less commercially successful ones. Americans have no alternative to the US Government. That is why the First Amendment only applies to the government, and protects even unpopular members of the press and public from government oversight like this lawsuit requests.

      2. The issue is not the “suppression of news.” The issue is that a certain subgroup does not approve of the news that they are seeing across major social media platforms and other channels, and are trying to force these organizations to promote their news.

        Here is an idea…start a company called ConBook (for conservatives). Sign people up. Connect it to FoxNews, Breitbart, and other similar media platforms. People can choose where to seek their “news.”

        FoxNews carries news that is spun in favor of Trump, Republicans, and Republican policies, in general. Should Fox be forced to promote Bernie Sanders. Thing about it. Then shut up with the ridiculous class action lawsuit talk. It is just a publicity stunt.

  3. Awesome hypocrisy! The right screams against “net neutrality” as overstepping the bounds of Government, but wants the Government to regulate social media! This is just too funny.

    All I can say to Freedom Watch is Bring It On! I look forward to watching you flail and fail at each step along the way. Step 1 – you will fail at gaining class action status.

    1. It isn’t about actually winning. These lunatics take these actions to keep feeding the “we are so oppressed” fantasies of the people who actually are running all three branches of the U.S. government.

      The only way they would feel like they had won anything is if they could _force_everyone_ to praise them.

  4. This is a load of crap introduced by our load of crap President.

    I wonder if Fox “News”, can be included as an outlet that is just a Murdock right wing propaganda arm?

  5. Not your main point, I know, but the USPA/USFA and the yearly NDAA makes torture the law of the land, meaning that torture by a US proxy overseas or by the police state within the US borders is legal. This further means that a US torture regime is OK in spite of Geneva still being active. Of course, this shows that the USPA/USFA/NDAAs have virtually replaced the US Constitution in many respects. Legislators don’t care; old news; Normal, unaligned folks don’t have enough money to influence legislators to reverse course.

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