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Trump files lawsuit against Facebook, Google, Twitter

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Yahoo Finance’s Rick Newman breaks down Trump’s class action lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: Well, former President Donald Trump has announced that he is the lead class representative in a class action lawsuit that he is filing against the heads of the social media giants Facebook and Twitter. Here with more details is our senior columnist Rick Newman. Rick, I almost have a smile on my face, telling everyone that news. I need more details. I don't know who he's in a class with, who else has signed on for this lawsuit. So tell us a little bit more.

RICK NEWMAN: Well, first a disclaimer. IANAL, I'm not a lawyer. But I can tell our audience that people who are lawyers are lampooning this lawsuit on the internet, on Twitter, and on other places. Trump obviously has a gripe, a grievance against Twitter and Facebook, which have both banned him, Twitter permanently and Facebook for at least two years. And I think it's probably fair to say this lawsuit is not going to get real far.

But look, what is Trump trying to do here? He's trying to get attention. I mean, he's had a hard time getting attention lately. He's actually out doing rallies again. But I don't think too many people are actually following those. And he's also using this to fundraise. I mean, some reporters have been quick to point out that Trump has already sent out fundraising appeals, saying, I'm suing the evil Facebook and the evil Twitter. So send in some money now. So mostly, I think this is just a publicity stunt meant to keep Trump in the news.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOUROS: So Rick, I know that when he made the announcement during that press conference that he was going to sue the CEOs of these social media giants, he said it was going to be a class action lawsuit. How is that going to work? I mean, I know you need to be more than one to have a class action lawsuit. So any idea how that's going to happen?

RICK NEWMAN: I mean, it doesn't take a lot of effort to get people to join a class action lawsuit. Really, you just have to add your name to the list of plaintiffs and, I guess, give some reason why you're joining this lawsuit. But let's just go back to the basics here. I mean, it's very well-established that no internet company, including Yahoo for that matter, is required to publish the content of anybody who wants to use that platform.

These companies have their own first amendment rights to limit the content, especially if it's troublesome, if it's hate speech, or if it's problematic in some other way. And Facebook's board of advisors, this group of outside experts, has said that some of what Trump put there was very problematic content. I mean, he arguably did try to get people to riot at the Capitol on January 6, which worked. And even if he didn't, there's no requirement that these companies have to publish this content.

So that's just one of several reasons where this is probably not going to go anywhere. But look, Trump is going to keep telling his fan base and these core Republican supporters that he's fighting on their behalf against the liberal media that wants to silence conservative voices. None of that is true, but that is how Trump is characterizing it and will continue to.

KRISTIN MYERS: Now, this seems to me like a pretty interesting political strategy. I know that Trump is essentially fundraising off of this. And he's done-- you and I have talked about this a lot. He's done incredibly well in terms of his fundraising efforts at almost every single event or speech that he makes. I'm curious to know however, because Republicans essentially blocked attempts that were made in Congress to investigate essentially what happened on January 6 with those riots at the Capitol. But with this lawsuit, wouldn't he then need to testify about the events on that day? And wouldn't this opened up some kind of opportunity for folks to get that kind of investigation and get those details out there that essentially there had been attempts to essentially squash?

RICK NEWMAN: I suppose. I mean, there is going to be a congressional investigation into what did happen on January 6. It's just going to be a Democratic-led investigation rather than a bipartisan group. And I suppose that, yes, Trump could put himself in the position of having to testify because he was still posting on Facebook at the time, though not on Twitter.

But that supposes that the lawsuit even gets that far. And I'm not entirely sure it's going to get that far, Kristin. I mean, some of the legal analysts have been pointing out that Facebook is based in California. And yet, Trump filed the lawsuit in Florida. And probably, you have to file it where Facebook is headquartered in order for this to be serious.

Now, let's keep in mind, Florida did pass its own law that calls for some penalties against internet companies if they "silence," in quotes, conservative voices. So I think this is just about 95% spectacle and attention-getting effort and perhaps 5% or less a serious legal effort.

KRISTIN MYERS: Well, I mean, it definitely worked. You and I are talking about it. So we've definitely at least fallen into that trap of giving him more attention. Senior columnist Rick Newman, thanks so much for joining us.