Banned from Twitter indefinitely and from Facebook for until 2023, embattled former President Donald Trump filed class action lawsuits July 7, against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

In this latest step, Trump repeats contentious claims of violations of free speech and censorship.

However, free speech expert Ken Paulson reminds that, "Private companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google have First Amendment rights as well. They can decide what they stand for and set their own standards. It’s the 'no shoes, no service' of digital media."

Drawing on his background as a journalist and lawyer, Paulson explains, "Just as Americans’ free speech is protected against government intervention, we also can’t be compelled to speak. Social media companies can’t be forced to “speak” by posting content that violates their standards."

Paulson is available for interviews and more indepth discussions on Trump's claims and other matters related to free speech and the First Amendment.

Paulson is former editor-in-chief of USA Today, where he remains a columnist writing about First Amendment and media issues. He founded the Free Speech Center at MTSU in 2019. He was President and CEO of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University and served as the center’s executive director before that. 

He speaks widely on First Amendment issues and has been quoted extensively in media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, ESPN, CBS Evening News and Newsweek

Paulson has testified before Congress as a First Amendment expert. He has a juris doctorate and is a member of both the Illinois and Florida bars.

Paulson has served as editor or managing editor of newspapers in five states. He was on the team of journalists who founded USA Today before moving on to manage newsrooms in N.Y., Wis., N.J., Fla., and finally USA TODAY.