(San Francisco, CA | August 8, 2023) — The Liberty Justice Center (LJC) has asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reverse a lower court decision that dismissed a First Amendment challenge to Facebook’s and Twitter’s censorship of social media posts at the Biden Administration’s direction.
LJC represents Justin Hart, a data analyst with a large social media following whose posts on the effectiveness of face masks to prevent COVID-19 were censored by Facebook and Twitter. In an opening brief filed on August 7, 2023, LJC argues that the district court’s earlier ruling in Hart v. Facebook failed to consider evidence proving the platforms violated Hart’s First Amendment rights because they acted jointly with the federal government.
Hart sued Facebook and Twitter after his social media posts—along with 20 million other pieces of content—were removed from the Internet and his account was suspended. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer dismissed the case on the ground that Hart had not alleged sufficient facts to establish that the government directed censorship of his posts.
However, information revealed after Hart filed his lawsuit shows that Biden Administration officials were heavily involved in censoring Facebook and Twitter posts that contradicted the federal government’s viewpoint on issues related to COVID-19. For example, the government provided content moderation training and records to private social media companies during regular “be on the lookout” meetings between CDC officials and Twitter and Facebook employees. However, the lower court refused to allow Hart to amend his complaint to include this and other newly-uncovered information.
“The ongoing effort to cover up government collusion with big tech should have every American concerned about their privacy and free speech rights,” said Justin Hart. “Now more than ever, it is essential that the truth comes out regarding how millions of Americans have had their content censored by social media companies at the apparent direction of our federal government. My case should be a wake-up call for everyone, even those who disagree with my views.”
Hart’s brief follows a decision issued July 4 by a Louisiana federal judge, which found that the Biden Administration had directed social media platforms to censor posts expressing disapproved views on COVID-19, and ordered the Administration to cease those activities. The case, Missouri v. Biden, is now pending review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
The Liberty Justice Center’s filings and other documents from the case are available here.