Jenn Horton, a teacher at Fenton Area Public Schools (FAPS), stood with former President Donald Trump as he announced Wednesday, July 7 that he was filing a class-action lawsuit against big tech and social media giants Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube parent company Google, which he claims has censored him.
Also on stage was Brooke Rollins, president and CEO of America First Policy Institute.
Horton’s Facebook account was suspended after she shared an article about wearing masks because of COVID-19.
Trump introduced Horton and explained her social media suspension, and how it ultimately affected her ability to get information out about her missing brother. Horton thanked Trump for everything he has done so her voice and the voice of all others could continue to be heard.
This was not the first time Horton has spoken out in public. In March, she was asked to speak at the capitol in Lansing at a rally hosted by a group called “MICHIGAN Save our Kids Open Our Schools.” She spoke out in favor of schools offering in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also created a Facebook group for parents and university students who sought in-person learning over virtual.
Horton describes herself as a child advocate. “I have and will continue to put children first,” she said.
She said her post, which Facebook censored, was an article from the National Institute of Health, a government agency, which addressed the effects of masks on children. She included that parents of children wearing masks should read the article, which she put a link in the comments.
“Two weeks later, my account was suspended for 24 hours because of that post,” she said. “Several other friends who had posted the same article were never censored.”
She said the difficulty for her was that during that same timeframe, she was using Facebook to help in the search for her brother who went missing in Tennessee. She was contacting missing person groups, sheriff and police departments, local Tennessee community groups, and anyone she could find who would be willing to share his missing person’s poster.
“It was a very difficult time being in Michigan, teaching, and searching for my brother,” Horton said. “When my account was suspended, I was shocked. As soon as my account was reactivated, I continued to use Facebook to search for my brother, but was hesitant to post anything more about masks because I didn’t want to lose access to my account again.”
On June 3, the last day of school, she received the news that she had dreaded. Her brother was found deceased. “My family is devastated and heartbroken,” she said. “We are planning the funeral for July 21, and my focus is on my family and funeral preparations right now.”
Horton shared her First Amendment concern with Catharine Cypher, who is from Fenton and a staff member at America First Policy Institute. Horton’s censorship story was then referred to a few attorneys who eventually asked her if she wanted to join the case as a class representative against Facebook.
The televised press conference with Trump was hosted in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“I was able to take my parents with me, which was so special,” she said. “Going through the search and loss of their son, my brother, has been devastating. Spending time with them is even more precious than ever and having them with me was meant to be.
“It was a great experience standing on stage with President Trump and other patriots standing up for our First Amendment rights. I met many people who have been censored unfairly or taken off platforms completely.”
Rollins and Linda McMahon, chair of the America First Policy Institute, invited all of the censored Americans to join them for lunch following the press conference.
“President Trump surprised us during the lunch and sat down to talk to each censored American about how censorship has impacted their lives,” Horton said. “I was especially impressed with the strong women of America First Policy Institute and their clear objective to help all Americans regardless of their politics — and to protect freedom of speech.
“I was touched to see President Trump and the America First Policy staff take such care and time with each class representative and ensure we felt comfortable and understood the process and path forward.
“I am thankful for the support of family and friends during the search for my brother and also those that stand up for American’s freedoms. I encourage people who have been censored, shadow banned, or deplatformed to share their story at takeonbigtech.com. This is a non-partisan issue that should concern all Americans.
“It is wonderful to see so many taking part in the movement for helping children too. The Michigan Save our Schools and Let Them Play women have been an inspiration to me to stand up for our children.”
Horton said she believes many educators feel the same way she does about the unfair treatment of kids this past year. “Rules of masks, testing athletes, contact tracing, excessive quarantining and the overall mental health of children worry us,” she said. “I think many are afraid to speak up. People are afraid to lose their job and have valid concerns about how they will be perceived. I hope by me standing up, it will encourage others to do the same.
“Freedom of speech is so incredibly important, and we must protect that and other freedoms for our children’s future.”