Duke Med alumnus wins lawsuit against Trump for blocking him on Twitter

25 May, 2018, 11:25 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Donald Trump Cannot Block People on Twitter U.S. Judge Rules

A US judge has ruled that US President Donald Trump can not block people viewing his tweets.

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY, ruled that Trump's Twitter account is a public forum.

However, the court ruled that the president is a public figure who has used his personal twitter account to make political announcements and that his feed is, indeed, a "public forum" and thus protected by the first amendment. "The answer to both questions is no", she concluded. In an email to The Associated Press, department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said, "We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps".

The case was brought forward by seven Twitter users who have been blocked on Twitter by the U.S. President.

Other media reports said the judge advised Mr Trump to mute critics if he doesn't want to see their activities, but they would be able to see and reply his own tweets.

A Twitter feed is more than one person's opinions because others can reply to tweets, and those replies are available for anyone to see.

In other words, Trump can continue to tweet unhindered, regardless of whatever happens in comment threads to previous tweets.

However, the US Department of Justice opposed with the court decision.

Considering Trump's position as a public official, a federal judge on Thursday ruled that he can not legally block his followers on Twitter based on their political views.

In what might just be one of the more freaky tech stories of the week, the judge's decision is the result of a case brought against the President by a group of Twitter users he'd blocked.

Trump's lawyers and the White House director of social networks, Daniel Scavino, said the president had a right to decide who had access to his private twitter account.

The distinction between muting and blocking showed the judge applied a subtle, but sophisticated, understanding of Twitter and social media, said Aaron Caplan, a professor at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles specializing in constitutional law. "If all goes well, Hollywood will immortalize him as an evildoer who got his comeuppance".

The Trump case is a little bit different because Twitter doesn't give anyone the ability to post comments directly on Trump's Twitter page.

Buchwald also disagreed with the contention of the defense that injunctive relief can never be awarded against the president, but she decided that she didn't need to "enter that legal thicket at this time". As such, if he blocks people and thereby prevents them from seeing his messages, he is breaking the First Amendment.

However, the Federal District Court for the Southern District of NY found that this was not the case.

It's not clear, as of this writing, how many Twitter users Trump has blocked - it could be a few dozen, it could be thousands. In last year's ruling about Facebook blocking, the judge held that public officials could do a certain amount of content moderation, provided that it was done in a content-neutral manner.



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