Updated Mar 9, 2021 - Technology

Twitter sues Texas AG Paxton, claiming he "retaliated" over Trump ban

Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General, during a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 27
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at February's Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Twitter on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), saying that his office launched an investigation into the social media giant because it banned former President Trump from its platform.

Driving the news: Twitter is seeking to halt an investigation launched by Paxton into moderation practices by Big Tech firms including Twitter for what he called "the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President," days after they banned him following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

  • In the suit, filed in a Northern California court, Twitter said "Paxton made clear that he will use the full weight of his office, including his expansive investigatory powers, to retaliate against Twitter for having made editorial decisions with which he disagrees."
  • Twitter said it has rights under the First Amendment "to make decisions about what content to disseminate through its platform," including "the discretion to remove or otherwise restrict access to Tweets, profiles, or other content posted to Twitter."
  • The company added in an emailed statement that in this case, "the Texas Attorney General is misusing the powers of his office to infringe on Twitter’s First Amendment rights and attempt to silence free speech."

The big picture: The U.S. and governments around the world have sought to crack down on Big Tech companies and curtail their perceived powers in recent years.

  • Just last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced his office was working with state senators on legislation he said would "prevent social media providers like Facebook & Twitter from cancelling conservative speech."

For the record: Paxton is an ardent Trump supporter, who unsuccessfully filed lawsuits that sought to invalidate 10 million votes in four battleground states lost by the former president in the 2020 election.

Of note: The attorney general is facing other separate legal challenges, including an FBI investigation into allegations that he "used his office to benefit a wealthy donor," AP notes.

  • He's also due to stand trial on securities fraud charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty. The case that dates back to 2015 has stalled in the courts following legal challenges, according to AP.
  • Representatives for Paxton did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details on the lawsuit, comment from Twitter and further context.

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