nsucurrent.com May 23, 2018

Trump is asked to unblock critics on Twitter, threatened with legal action

08 June 2017, 02:16 | Colleen Roy

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in NY says that the president blocking anybody suppresses free speech in a public forum. "Why didn't you attend your #PittsburghNotParis rally in DC, Sir?" he asked, adding "#fakeleader". I think that this kind of behavior by "critics" deserves to be blocked because it distracts from the ability of all other users to read and understand the president's positions.

Judges may rule on whether Trump's Twitter account really is, or is analogous to, a designated public forum, he said.

The letter said that Trump's blocking of users on Twitter suppressed their free-expression rights in several ways.

George Conway III, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway's husband previously considered a potential Trump nominee, tweeted Monday that Trump's social media use may jeopardize the administration's agenda in court.

Senior litigator at the Institute, Katie Fallow, meanwhile, said that "When new communications platforms are developed, core First Amendment principles can not be left behind".

From one point of view, then, Donald J. Trump, on his personal @realDonaldTrump account, is a Twitter user like any other: If he doesn't want to see you yelling at him on Twitter, he has the tools available to block you. Meanwhile, 57 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the job Trump is doing. He rebuked them for not pursuing his original executive order banning Muslims from certain countries from entering the USA and instead throwing their legal weight behind a "watered down" version.

That's the gist of a letter [PDF] the Knight Foundation sent to the White House this week.

The Knight First Amendment Institute has issued a letter to Trump calling on him to unblock American citizens that he has restricted from viewing and responding to his tweets, KTLA reports. By blocking his critics, Trump makes it hard for them to see or respond to any of his tweets.

"But just because you are protesting doesn't mean a government official has to listen", he said.

But the general public is growing increasingly concerned with his tweeting, according to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO survey that shows growing discontent - even among the president's own base - with his use of the social media platform.

Could President Trump's Twitter habit land him in hot water? The Institute said it would go after both accounts with "equal force".

Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, was the least popular selection, at 20 percent.

Legal experts have said his tweets may directly affect policy. While a plurality of Republicans (36 percent) and Trump voters (41 percent) said Trump's tweets were a good thing, the share of those voters who said the opposite also grew.

The most constitutionally significant effect would be that blocked users apparently can't post to Twitter comment threads, at least without some complicated workarounds.

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