Wednesday, 23 August, 2017

Critics Blocked from President's Twitter Account File Suit

President Trump Returns To White House Twitter Users Blocked by Trump File Constitutional Lawsuit
Saul Franklin | 12 July, 2017, 00:40

Since Twitter users who have been blocked can not read or respond to Trump's tweets, the suit argues, blocking users for their political beliefs "imposes a viewpoint-based restriction on. participation in a public forum" and violates the first amendment. It asks for the blocking to be deemed unconstitutional and seeks an injunction to require the president to unblock users. "The White House acts unlawfully when it excludes people from this forum simply because they've disagreed with the president".

"Its actions violate the rights of the people who've been blocked and the rights of those who haven't been blocked but who now participate in a forum that's being sanitized of dissent".

In the complaint, the foundation argues that the president's Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, is "a public forum under the First Amendment" because of how both Trump and his staff use the account to communicate.

The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of NY by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, comes a month after the group sent a letter to the president and several aides, asking that two of their clients be unblocked.

The Supreme Court ruled last month that social networking websites have become such an important source of information that even sex offenders should not be barred from social media.

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The plaintiffs include Rebecca Buckwalter, a Center for American Progress fellow, who said she was blocked June 6 for replying to a Trump tweet, "To be fair you didn't win the WH: Russia won it for you". Her reply got 9,033 likes and 3,371 retweets and was blocked by the president shortly afterwards. On his personal account, Trump is theoretically able to control who he blocks and follows as well as whether to make his account public or private (as of this writing, his account remains unprotected and accessible to those he hasn't blocked).

After the election, I programmed my phone to alert me whenever Trump tweeted. Please protect his ego and don't RT it.

"This isn't just about Trump, and it's not just about Twitter", another plaintiff, Holly Figueroa, wrote in the Washington Post.

Some legal experts were skeptical of the argument that Twitter should be considered a public forum when the Knight Institute first raised the prospect of a lawsuit in June. "It's about ensuring that as new platforms of communication are developed, and more and more politicians use social media as a primary way to communicate with constituents, we don't lose our ability to participate in our democracy or exercise our First Amendment rights".

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