Three physicians whose Twitter accounts have been permanently suspended sued the social media platform alleging breach of contract for censoring their tweets about COVID-19, which they claim contained factual information.
Robert Malone, Peter McCullough, and Bryan Tyson filed the lawsuit in California Superior Court in San Francisco County last month.
“We believe that the facts and the law are on our side, and we are determined to win this case in honor of the late Dr. Vladimir Zev Zelenko,” said attorney Matthew Tyson who is representing the doctors.
Zelenko, who encouraged the use of controversial treatments for COVID-19 like hydroxychloroquine, was also suspended on Twitter prior to his June 30 death.
“This case is about the right of highly qualified physicians and scientists to post truthful and exceedingly helpful information regarding COVID-19 policy, diagnosis, and treatment in compliance with Twitter’s terms of service,” Tyson told the Southern California Record.
Tyson had sent a letter to Twitter on May 12 demanding Zelenko’s account and the account of four other physicians be reinstated.
“A private entity violates the First Amendment if the government coerces or induces it to take action that the government itself would not be permitted to do such as censor expression of a lawful viewpoint,” Tyson wrote.
The complaint was filed on June 27 before Tesla founder Elon Musk terminated his merger agreement with Twitter.
SEC filings state that Twitter refused to inform Musk of the methodologies used to identify and suspend accounts for violation of Twitter policies.
“We intend to zealously explore those methodologies in discovery and if we find that political intervention took place, Section 230 protection likely falls by the wayside and our clients will seek leave to amend their complaint and assert additional causes of action against Twitter and possibly others,” Tyson said.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is often used as a defense in litigation by social media companies.
“The topic transcends political affiliation and affects everyone,” Tyson added. “We expect that jurors will welcome hearing what our clients have to say when they’re not censored by Twitter.”