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May 28 2018

Millennial Monday: Can you sue the President for blocking you on Twitter?

by Betsy Pearson

Today’s news cycle is dominated by President Trump’s tweets. His unconventional social media use has been one of the most defining characteristics of his presidency. Twitter is also very important to the millennial generation. All the popular—and controversial—hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #NeverAgain, have started on Twitter. Twitter is a modern day hotbed for political debate. But what happens if the President of the United States blocks you on Twitter?

Twitter has been buzzing with news that users who have been blocked by Trump have a legitimate law suit against the President. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald found that because Trump Holds a public office, his Twitter feed is a “public forum”. Therefore, “when Mr. Trump or an aide blocked [the plaintiffs] from viewing and replying to his posts, he violated the First Amendment.”

The #Resistance movement, celebrities, and regular citizen-adversaries have harassed Trump since before his inauguration, causing the list of blocked users on the @POTUS account and @realDonaldTrump account to grow substantially. Though I do think it is problematic for the President to take active measures to silence people that disagree with him—is blocking someone on Twitter unconstitutional? I think that is a little dramatic.

What is more concerning is that in her ruling, Judge Buchwald said that there should be some amount of “governmental control over certain aspects of @realDonaldTrump account.”

The @POTUS account is an account that is handed down from president to president, and I could understand why blocking people there might be problematic. But the @realDonaldTrump account was Trump’s before he was in public office, and arguably could be labeled his personal account.

I believe this ruling represents the start of a slippery slope. Government should not concern itself with our newsfeeds.

 
Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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