Twitter users, blocked by President Trump, cry censorship

Trump’s tweeter feed on a computer screen in Washington. Some Twitter users say Trump is violating the First Amendment by blocking people from his feed after they posted scornful comments. Lawyers

Users of blocked accounts can not follow Trump and they have difficulty viewing his posts, finding them through Twitter's search function, learning which accounts follow the president, and participating in comment-thread discussions about his tweets, it said.

"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.

But the Knight Institute argues that Trump's personal account - where he is prone to express his own, spur-of-the-moment thoughts, is also a public account, even though Trump established the handle when he was a private citizen and then when he was a candidate.

"The viewpoint-based blocking of our clients is unconstitutional", wrote attorneys at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in NY. The Wall Street Journal posted the text of the letter (PDF), which argues that, as President, operates as a "designated public forum" similar to a city council or school board meeting.

The White House has not responded to the First Amendment group's letter.

While no lawsuit has been filed, the lawyers say they're considering one if Trump doesn't unblock their clients. In another, she posted a GIF of Pope Francis appearing uncomfortable standing next to Trump, with the caption, "This is pretty much how the whole world sees you". Now, government officials are vociferous on Twitter-Donald Trump especially-and free speech experts say that creates constitutional obligations in the U.S., including keeping followers who aren't fans. "The effect of that is that he can't exclude people based exclusively on his disagreement with them".

If President Trump's blocking of certain individuals leads to a legal challenge, Twitter could find themselves in an awkward position as a social media platform which has actively worked to provide their users with content moderation tools for individuals using the service.

The institute says it aims to change the blocking policy generally.

In a nutshell, there are several definitions for public forums, based in part on what the government's intentions were in setting them up in the first place. They argue the president is violating freedom of speech rights by denying users access to a government forum. In another of President Trump's tweets criticizing the mainstream media, United Press International writer Ben Hooper continued to push the conspiracy theory that Russian Federation somehow spread "fake news" in order to benefit Trump.

The institute said blocking any users from Trump's feed constitutes a violation of the First Amendment.



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