President Trump certainly has spawned a nationwide discussion of the role of the president on social media, to the point where Valerie Plame Wilson has set up a GoFundMe campaign to buy a controlling interest in Twitter just to kick him off.
But is it legal for President Trump to block people on Twitter? Matthew Sheffield looked into the question for Salon, and he notes that the Knight First Amendment Institute is representing in court several Twitter users who have been blocked by the president.
Donald Trump is being sued on First Amendment grounds for blocking people on Twitter. He should have used “mute” instead https://t.co/e4kDQF2Lab
— Matthew Sheffield (@mattsheffield) November 28, 2017
One significant area of dispute that the court must resolve is whether a social media account used for official business can be fairly compared to public “town hall” meetings that politicians have organized since America’s founding. The law governing such meetings explicitly prohibits “viewpoint discrimination,” where citizens who express critical opinions are treated differently than those who express supportive positions.
In its responses to the Knight lawsuit, the Justice Department argues that Trump does not use Twitter as a public forum but instead as a place to discuss his own personal views. The president’s critics find such claims unpersuasive.
We thought Twitter was a private business with its own terms of service?
Beyond ridiculous https://t.co/UYgFl3gcUj
— LaurieAnn ✨ (@mooshakins) November 28, 2017
He can block who damn well pleases. Geez. He doesn't own Twitter. The Government isn't controlling who speaks. He's not stopping anyone's voice. He's stopping his hearing. https://t.co/IK54umwOsL
— Melissa Mackenzie 🌐 (@MelissaTweets) November 28, 2017
ROFL. The First Amendment guarantees your right to speak. It does not force anyone to listen to you. I hope the MSM runs with this story. https://t.co/cxv09AO6Ui
— The Alaskan Patriot (@Nosafetypinneed) November 28, 2017
What a waste of time, money and air. It's a free service and just because you want to say something doesn't mean he has to listen.
— Komrade Pinkachu🐲 (@bob_hoke) November 28, 2017
Imbeciles. @realDonaldTrump blocking someone does not prevent them from expressing whatever mindless grievance they have concocted in their vacuum they call a mind. The 1A doesn't force the government to listen – it only prevents the government from restraining speech.
— Mark Alexander (@MarkACumberland) November 28, 2017
I’m going to sue Cher, Shaun King, Donna Brazille, Kirk Erickson, etc. https://t.co/vtNLOTpHm9
— MaryAnnNotGinger 🎄🎅🏼⛄️ (@MAnotGinger) November 28, 2017
This is the most petty & stupid hill the press has decided to die on….. https://t.co/P2sC5OFVuu
— EducatédHillbilly™ (@RobProvince) November 28, 2017
So, when some outgoing Twitter staffer “inadvertently” shuts down the president’s account, do we all get to sue Twitter for denying us access to his tweets?
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