Trump Can’t Block Twitter Users, Federal Court Rules

Trump violated the First Amendment when he blocked Twitter users who disagreed with him.

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President Donald Trump cannot block Twitter users who disagree with him, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. The court upheld a previous ruling that Trump’s online silencing of opposing viewpoints violated the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote in the unanimous decision.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University represented seven users who had been blocked by Trump for posting disapproving comments about the president in 2017. Trump unblocked those users while the case was pending appeal, according to the Washington Post.

The decision comes less than two weeks after Twitter announced that it would notify users when public officials’ tweets violated the company’s rules about abusive behavior—a measure that could potentially apply to Trump’s tweets. The president’s inability to block users marks a victory for online free speech advocates amid a conversation about the responsibility of public officials—and social media platforms—to moderate behavior online.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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