One year ago today, James Lawrence and I won an unprecedented victory over Big Tech.
At least 62 times, users had sued social media and technology companies over bans and censorship. They’d sued Facebook for pulling down huge groups. They’d sued YouTube for blocking ads and bans. Of course they’d sued Twitter.
They’d sued and sued.
And they’d lost and lost.
Courts had (mis)interpreted Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to give the companies complete immunity over decisions to ban users. The courts took this view everywhere, but especially in California, where tech companies pay the piper, to the tune of trillions of dollars in wealth.
Whether the companies had held themselves out as free speech havens didn’t matter. Whether they had encouraged users to build businesses on their platforms didn’t matter. The protections they supposedly offered users against arbitrary bans didn’t matter. State laws didn’t matter.
All that mattered was Section 230.
How complete was the immunity? Completely complete. When pressed, as in this 2018 case in a California state court, the companies would argue they had the right to discriminate even against people in otherwise protected categories, such as African-Americans.
(We wouldn’t ban black people, yer honor! But we could if we wanted to. But we wouldn’t, so don’t worry about it!)
That position shocked the judge in this case enough that he rejected Twitter’s motion to dismiss it. No matter, though. Twitter quickly appealed - and a week later, without even granting a hearing, the appeals court overturned the ruling and ordered the case dismissed
Are you starting to see the odds we faced when we filed Berenson v Twitter in December 2021?
No wonder that America’s Finest Legal Analyst (TM) - a New York lawyer who appears to spend most of his time making obnoxious Twitter posts (no doubt his clients appreciate his hard work!) - and the rest of lefty legal Twitter had nothing but bad things to say about our suit.
(So confident. Also, so wrong!)
No matter. We had specific promises from Twitter to me, and we had a theory that hadn’t been tested before, that once Twitter had publicly set up rules to police Covid-19 speech, it had to follow them - and that I could prove I hadn’t violated them.
But Twitter’s lawyers, secure in the knowledge they’d never lost before, didn’t seem to take our arguments very seriously.
Until April 28, 2022, when we had our hearing on Twitter’s motion to dismiss before federal Judge William Alsup - and Alsup showed he took our suit seriously indeed. Within the first few minutes, it was clear Twitter was in trouble. Alsup appeared ready to allow not just our contract claims but at least one broad First Amendment claim to move ahead.
(Philip Burton Federal Building, San Francisco, CA, April 28, 2022, immediately after the hearing in Berenson v Twitter. Blue skies ahead! Yeah, I know, we need tie clips.)
When Alsup issued his ruling the next day - April 29, 2022, a year ago today - he didn’t go quite that far.
But he DID reject Twitter’s motion to dismiss - and, just as importantly, set up an accelerated schedule for discovery that Twitter could not dodge. Discovery refers to the process in civil litigation where the two sides turn over documents to each other and sit for depositions under oath. As Fox News just learned, it can be extremely painful.
Alsup’s ruling put us in a very strong position. Over the next two months, I promised I would not settle the lawsuit without the discovery that would reveal whether Twitter had come under outside pressure when it took action against me in 2021.
And I kept that promise.
Barely two months later, following tough negotiations led by James and his California co-counsel, Sean Gates, Twitter and I settled. became the only person (as far as I know) to have his social media account reinstated following a ban lawsuit - without giving up the discovery rights I needed.
Now, thanks to the documents that came out of Berenson v Twitter, we now know that the White House and Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb directly pressured the company to censor me.
Two weeks ago, James, Sean and I took the next step in our quest against corporate and government censorship. We sued Biden Administration, Gottlieb, and Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla in federal court in New York for violating my First Amendment (and other) rights. I urge you to read Berenson v Biden. I’m proud of it.
I will talk a little more about our strategy in Berenson v Biden in the future. Many of you have donated to support it, and I want - to the extent I can do so without giving too much away - to give you a sense of how we see the case.
Make no mistake. Berenson v Biden will be far from easy. Pfizer and the federal government are even larger and more powerful than Twitter. Still, compared to Berenson v Twitter, we are in a much stronger legal position. This time around we have a strong precedent to draw on, a case in which the same federal circuit found Donald Trump’s Twitter account was a public forum and he could not prevent people from commenting on it, as the White House sought to do to me.
Besides, a year ago we proved the impossible possible.
I can’t wait to do it again.
Alex - thank you for putting it all on the line, for us who don't have your reach, to fight for liberty.
You will be recognized in history as a force for freedom.
I am not a big fan of sycophants, so I don't want it to come of this way; although I disagree on a few cultural issues they have never gotten in the way of my admiration of you.
P.S. - thank you for your "fight" for children. It means a lot to parents like my wife and me.
Alex advocating for 1A is why I'm here. Keep fighting for us
No matter the outcome, you’re forcing their hand and exposing motive. It’s a massive personal investment which spurs our spirits and potentially sets legal precedent. So grateful. Onward!
Congratulations keep fighting! We all need to hear the success stories. The chaos across our great country is demoralizing
Time is on your side, Alex. More and more people are seeing the light and speaking out with each new case of blatant journalistic censorship. The courts know people are paying attention. Keep your spirits up.
Keep pushing that boulder... you will make it roll one day.
I’m almost 50 and I can say I haven’t had a lot of heroes in my life. You, sir, are a hero! Keep up the good fight! Set precedents. This Government will never be reined in, but it’s damn nice to see someone be a complete pain in their asses legally instead of violently.
In general, private companies should do what they want without government interference. But in your case, the government and the social media companies got together to suppress ideas that went counter to their narrative. So I hope you can pull off another win for freer (if not fully free) speech.
Wishing Alex the best in the lawsuit. Go go go!
That said, I’ve been perma-banned from Twitter too. In my case, because, on a thread about Merrick Garland, I tweeted, “Tar and feather.” Old-regime Twitter threw me offfor “targeted harassment”! When I protested the ban to new-regime Twitter, they affirmed it. I wasn’t using the jaunty language of 19th century political debate to express disapproval of our disgusting AG, no: I was … I dunno, trying to incite violence or something. If anybody wants to urge @elonmusk to reinstate me (@raysawhill), I’d be grateful. I’m a retired reporter and researcher, btw.
And now for a comprehensive review of the studies on hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin effectiveness against Covid-19. Maybe we are being misled by numerous independent doctors when they say that there are many times more studies showing the effectiveness of these medications than the limited number of often flawed, designed to fail, and sometimes fraudulent studies showing they are not effective. I would like to know for sure, as Alex claims that he has found no such evidence of effectiveness and I'm sure he has reviewed all the studies.
Stay focused. Stand firm in the fight!
Enjoyed the picture of the courtroom gladiators just out of the ring!
Keep being relentless. And thank you for never letting go. Our world needs more of this level of tenacity in its citizens. Bravo!
You should be very proud of your accomplishments. Thank you for your fortitude and keep fighting for the truth.
Please let me know if you are still taking donations to your legal defense fund ...
Tighten the noose (legal noose) on the bastards!
So proud of you Alex and Team!
Great victory! Thank you for bringing the lawsuit!
Love it Alex....keep it going & all the Best of Luck in the fight..."FJB"
Executive. Legistlative. Judiciary.
When the first is fully compromised, and the second partially compromised, thank heavens the third is still functional.
I’m curious if you have plans to share the discovery documents from twitter in their entirety, once you have won Berenson vs. Biden et al?
If you have shared them already, please excuse my ignorance; I assumed you might keep them to yourself through the current suit.
Relentless! Thank you.
To Alex, what do you think of RFK Jr's nomination fight? Forgive me if I've missed it but I haven't seen your opinion anywhere.
I am curious, why did the appeals court roll over so quickly and dismiss in favor of Twitter? Leftist, Obama appointed judge? Paid off judge?
Bottom line, without the machine gunners, like the kid, there would be no wars. To "volunteer" to kill to support the most blatant coup in history, the Maidan-mob "revolution" of 2014, not as a conscripted countryman, but as a mercenary from 5000 miles distant, is seen by most of the planet's inhabitants as a war crime. You can't praise the killers and claim to be against the killing.
Why did Russia put their country so close to our NATO bases?
Whatever happened to the promises, after the dissolution of the USSR, by GHWB and then Clinton, of "NATO will not expand 'one inch' Eastward "?
When the Soviets built a missle base in Cuba in 1962, after the US secretly moved nuclear missles to Turkey, there was great distress about the existential threat to the US with nukes 90 miles from Florida, resolved only by Kennedy, the uncle of Junior, withdrawing the arms from Turkey after which Kruschev agreed to dismantle the base in Cuba. How is the Russian resistance to the puppet-led "democracy" in Ukraine, replete with NATO arms, minutes flight time from Moscow, substantively different from what is euphemistically sold to Americans as "the Cuban missle crisis"?
Obfuscated forbidden truth about the origins of the conflict. Crimea was bought by Russian Empress Catherine the Great in the 1760s, there has been a Russian navy warm_water port there ever since, though you'd be hard-pressed to know that from American media.
Catherine was the first world leader to recognize the American colonies' Declaration of Independance, before 1776 had ended. Almost no one knows that recent history because it doesn't fit the NATO agenda. Jnj
Last sentence in last full paragraph; " he " could not prevent people from commenting on it.
Who is he? Donald Trump? Wasn't the issue he was " censored " off Twitter of course unjustifiably, as you were?
Both a ridiculous show of ignorance and blatant disregard for the free speech Constitutional Law, by the previous Dictators at Twitter. Painfully obvious to everyone but it took someone such as you to go through the work, pain and suffering to put those arrogant spoiled children in their places. And ultimately fire their stupid, lazy, spoiled asses. Thanks Elon.
10 years ago I would have never expected I would need heroes for free speech. And certainly would not have thought they would be a writer for the NYT and a tech mogul like Elon. But here we are, and I am thankful for you.
Alex, I look at Berenson v. Twitter as a landmark victory whose ripple effects may well bring down the entire Censorship Industrial Complex. The real prize for winning (it not being dismissed, that is) was the revelation (through discovery) that the government had actually outsourced First Amendment violations to a private social media platform. This was confirmed (in spades!) by Matt Taibbi in "The Twitter Files". That, in turn, has led to the suspicion (and for many of us, the near certainty) that the government used its regulatory authority to bully other social media giants to censor public commentary. From now on these First Amendment lawsuits can and should name the government as a defendant or a co-defendant.
I’m so glad I found you on Twitter before you were banned. I learned so much about the covid nonsense and your info gelled me decide to avoid the jabs. Forever grateful to you for that!
Go get em Alex. Smash those fuckers.
Shit yeah, dude! Love it.
Why are you suing the guy who had you banned when you said you would vote for him over Trump in 2024?
FOX found out how dangerous it is to publish that truth that experts showed how Dominions voting machines can be compromised. Look for Tucker Carlson to be set up with a phony rape charge soon.
The implications of a win here are profound. Other than Berenson, Taibbi, Greenwald, Carlson, and a handful of others, investigative journalism isn’t quite dead but is certainly on life support. Without a strong first amendment, and a strong second to protect the first, America dissolves into a globalist governed obscurity.
For America - win this Alex.
Hahaha, won, lol. You mean you settled behind closed doors and took everyone for a fool who donated.
It is a big deal. All of this has been. Sent a modest contribution to the law office. I continue to believe every little bit helps. Wishing you and James Lawrence success.
Thank you Alex. I’ve trusted you and your position from the beginning!
You’re a fierce fighter and the thing that underlies your fierceness is that you have truth on your side.
Truth is one of the most powerful forces in the universe (along with love). The truth makes people free and brave.
Keep going as you have!
Too much self congratulations. You had a chance to set precedent before judge Bill Alsup. He's well respected (his opinions in the Oracle v. Google case won the approval of the Supreme Court) and he was on your side. You threw that all away to go after bigger fish. Thanks for nothing.
Now I'm rooting against you. The government and private parties have the right to lobby Twitter to ban people they think are spreading false and harmful information. Twitter has the right to decide. Twitter was pressured, not coerced. That's the line. The defendants didn't cross it.
So bad luck to you in your lawsuit. For the sake of the public, I hope you lose.
Keep up the fight, Alex! Our once great country is great BECAUSE of the 1A!
We, the people, will help to keep (y)our freedom of speech ANY way we can!
Alex, congratulations 1 year later. I’m grateful for you, your legal team and Judge Alsup. We are all hoping and praying that the judge allows Discovery to move forward. You indeed have a strong case and we shall see if the rule of law is strong.
Good luck. Godspeed.
Alex. I/we admire your backbone and willingness to stand up and fight. We have contributed to your cause. Now my corporate experience suggests you very well may face every dirty "legal process" trick in the book. For instance I was once slammed with 40,000 documents as "discovery" with the implied message "Go find the needle in the haystack". The desired/required materials were in the 40,000 documents somewhere but the other party refused to tell us where. AND. the judge let it stand.
If you set up a Go Fund Me account for extra late night coffee, I will be glad to contribute again. I suspect you are going to need it.
Why win when you can settle?
Massive congratulations; thanks for the lesson in fighting for what you believe and modeling tenacity.
So, will settling out of court be an option you'll take this time? As I understand it, settling sets no precedent that others can use. You certainly have to take care of you and your family first, but if settling out of court is a strategy you plan to use if offered, I know I would like to know up front. Maybe that's not something you can divulge under the circumstances so I will just have to go by what I know of your history and not get too emotionally involved this time around. Good luck.
Very well done. Keep up the excellent quest.