Twitter users threaten Trump with legal action unless they are unblocked

Aaron Brown
June 8, 2017

"Your Twitter accounts are forums in which you share your thoughts and decisions as President, and in which millions of people respond, ask questions, and sometimes have those questions answered".

Again the law allows you to protest but because this area is so new, it's hard to say if blocking a Twitter user is paramount to suppressing their speech, he said.

A free-speech institute on Tuesday sent a letter to President Donald Trump demanding the prolific tweeter President unblock certain Twitter users on grounds the practice violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

People who get banned for hate speech or harassment often complain about their "free speech" rights, but that only means the government can't stop you from doing something.

And, as Adbo told The Washington Post, "The people that we talked to all seemed to have been blocked after tweeting pretty direct criticism at the president".

"We write on behalf of individuals who have been blocked from your most-followed Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, because they disagreed with, criticized, or mocked you or your actions as president", the Knight Institute letter reads. No word on if muting-which just blocks someone's tweets from appearing on Trump's timeline-would be acceptable.

The letter argues that President Trump's Twitter account constitutes a "designated public forum" and is subject to the protections of the First Amendment. In other words, if Trump doesn't unblock you, you'll eventually be able to visit the National Archives to see his tweets, assuming you still care about his early morning rants by the time they're preserved.

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Trump used Twitter consistently on the campaign trail, but many predicted he'd cool it, once taking the reins of the presidency. The letter specifically names two recently blocked individuals and the alleged bases for blocking who will presumably be plaintiffs should this matter turn into a litigation (for now, their attorneys are just asking that the accounts be unblocked).

The tweeters - one a liberal activist, the other a cyclist who says he's a registered Republican - have posted and retweeted plenty of complaints and jokes about Trump. "This feature helps users in restricting specific accounts from contacting them, seeing their Tweets, and following them".

"This is a context in which the Constitution precludes the president from making up his own rules", said Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute's executive director.

"When new communications platforms are developed, core First Amendment principles can not be left behind", Katie Fallow, a senior litigator at the Knight Institute, said in a statement.

A late night Tweet is seen from the personal Twitter account of U.S. President Donald Trump, May 31, 2017.

Thus, when Trump is blocking people from seeing his account, he is also barring them from seeing those official statements.

Overing said courts would most likely deem a public forum a physical venue like a park or town hall, not a social media platform.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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