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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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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