Twitter block ruled violation of First Amendment

25 May, 2018, 11:22 | Author: Jeffery Armstrong
  • Duke Med alumnus wins lawsuit against Trump for blocking him on Twitter

A US judge has ruled that US President Donald Trump can not block people viewing his tweets.

President Donald Trump can not block Twitter users for the political views they have expressed, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, a judge in NY described the president's Twitter account as a public forum, and said blocking Twitter users for their views violated their right to free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution. "The answer to both questions is no", she concluded.

"The court ruling is a major win for the First Amendment rights of the public on social media", says EFF civil liberties director David Greene.

The case had been brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

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Given Trump's enormous Twitter following, the top reply to his tweets often receives a great deal of attention. Muted users could still appear for others to see under Trump's tweets, however.

In other words, because Trump and his social media team are not in a position to control subsequent discussion of any tweets in the comment threads, then by blocking citizens from being a part of that public discussion they are limited their free speech rights.

He often eschews the official United States presidential Twitter account, @POTUS, as well as his own White House press office, to make official announcements.

US District Judge in New York Southern District Naomi Reice Buchwald gave her ruling on a petition filed by a group of seven followers who alleged that president Trump unlawfully barred them from viewing his feed.

Twitter declined to comment on the ruling while the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice, which represents the president in the case, did not immediately comment. But he can't prevent his critics from participating in a public forum, which is what his Twitter feed has become. "If that's the case, the government doesn't get to pick and choose who is allowed in".

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But the judge's decision leaves open the possibility that Trump could ignore the ruling altogether. In July, a federal court in Virginia said the chair of a county board of supervisors had violated the First Amendment rights of a constituent by blocking him from the county's Facebook page.

NY reports the Republican politician has blocked the likes of: law student Luke Waltham and lawyers Sylvia Onyejekwe and Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza.

However, if you click on a Donald Trump tweet, you'll see a long list of replies to that tweet listed underneath.

The blocked: Along with Cohen, several other Twitter users have accused Trump of blocking them on Twitter.

It is not clear how many people Mr. Trump has blocked, but online tallies list some of the names: author Stephen King, anti-Trump activist Holly Figueroa O'Reilly and Daily Kos editor Rebecca Pilar Buckwalter Poza, who was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. In last year's ruling about Facebook blocking, the judge held that public officials could do a certain amount of content moderation, provided that it was done in a content-neutral manner.

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