EFF: Twitter users have a First Amendment right not to be blocked by President Trump
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has told a court that Donald Trump's blocking of users who criticize him on Twitter is a violation of their First Amendment rights. The digital rights group says that people have a "constitutional right to receive government messages transmitted through social media and participate in the forums created by them."
The EFF argues that Trump's use of Twitter has become a hallmark of his presidency, and by blocking individuals he is denying them access to the policy details and other information he frequently disseminates through tweets.
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The argument that Trump's blocking of Twitter users is unconstitutional is something that has already been argued by the Knight First Amendment Institute earlier in the year. A suit filed back in July said that the president should not be able to block people who criticized him. Now the EFF is getting involved, with Civil Liberties Director David Greene saying: "President Trump's blocking of people on Twitter because he doesn’t like their views infringes on their right to receive public messages from government and participate in the democratic process."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation says:
EFF maintains that President Trump's use of his Twitter account is akin to past presidents' adoption of new communication technologies to engage directly with the public. President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered "fireside chats" with Americans over the radio, while presidential debates began being televised in the 1960s. It would be impermissible for a president to block certain individuals from receiving their messages, whether delivered by bullhorn, radio, or television. It should be the same for communications delivered by Twitter.
On the local level, mayors use their Twitter feeds to direct residents to emergency services during storms and hurricanes, while fire chiefs use their feeds to transmit evacuation orders and emergency contact information. Citizens rely heavily on these channels for authoritative and reliable information in times of public safety crisis. It's unthinkable, and unconstitutional, that certain people would be blocked from these messages because they sent a tweet criticizing the official or office maintaining the Twitter account.
You can read through the filing on the EFF website.