Donald Trump Sued by Seven People for Blocking Them on Twitter
President Donald Trump has been sued by seven people for blocking them on Twitter.
The president is an avid Twitter user, a social media platform where he deploys to praise allies and lambast critics.
The lawsuit was filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute, a free speech group at Columbia University.
The seven Twitter users involved claim their accounts were blocked by President Trump, or his aides, after they replied to his tweets with mocking or critical comments.
People on Twitter are unable to see or respond to tweets from accounts that block them.
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The legal complaint argues that by blocking these individuals, President Trump has barred them from joining the online conversation.
It calls the move an attempt to “suppress dissent” in a public forum – and a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and President Trump’s social media director Daniel Scavino are also named in the lawsuit.
Last month, Sean Spicer said President Trump’s tweets were considered “official statements by the president of the United States”.
The president’s @realDonaldTrump Twitter account has 33.7 million followers, while the official @POTUS account has 19.3 million.
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Knight First Amendment Institute Executive Director Jameel Jaffer said the president’s love of Twitter means it has become “an important source of news and information about the government”.
“The First Amendment applies to this digital forum in the same way it applies to town halls and open school board meetings,” Jameel Jaffer said.
“The White House acts unlawfully when it excludes people from this forum simply because they’ve disagreed with the president.”
According to the institute, the account’s blocking habit should be a concern for everyone.
“Why? Because even if they can read the president’s tweets, what they see has been consciously cleansed of criticism.“
Donald Trump has been party to an eye-watering 4,000 lawsuits over the last 30 years.