Trump Can’t Block Twitter Users, Federal Court Rules

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

Shutterstock

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.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.