back to article Trump tramples US Constitution by blocking Twitter critics – lawsuit

President Donald Trump's habit of blocking critics from following his Twitter account faces a legal challenge that seeks to prevent him from tuning out those with opposing views. On Tuesday, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed a lawsuit in New York's Southern District on behalf of seven people who …

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Right? The plaintiff's assertion is that The Donald's tweetings are actually official communications from the president. That would imply at least a couple of other startling things as well. Twitter would be on a par with the government printing office, and the Ninth Circuit Court's Travel Ban block (citing a Trump tweet for justification) would be legitimized (quite a feat too).

      The funny thing is that no other Presidential communication venue requires him to listen to critics of that communication, whereas this one would. The plaintiffs say that Don's Twitter account is now an "official public venue" and as such, it amounts to a "public square." But there are already plenty of those, and wouldn't that deprive him of what every other Twitter user has, namely a personal account? Should politicians be forbidden to have personal Twitter accounts? At all levels? What about local regulating bodies?

      Further, Obama was tweeting a bit too, but no one suggested this kind of thing in his case. What's different now? Is it somehow more official than before? How so? What specific thing changed to make it so?

      The plaintiffs allege that Trump and his aides have used the account to carry out official communications, but I don't recall anyone saying that before now, and I can't think of any clear examples. Merely insinuating this won't cut it, probably.

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge

        "The funny thing is that no other Presidential communication venue requires him to listen to critics of that communication, whereas this one would."

        Like a stand up comedian, Trump has chosen a venue where his messages may be applauded or lambasted. Stand up comedians may have to endure heckling and they'd need to improvise something in return to counter the offenders.

        If Trump can't stand the heat - he could very well start blogging and disable comments.

        "Further, Obama was tweeting a bit too, but no one suggested this kind of thing in his case. What's different now?"

        Were people banned in this manner?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'd be most surprised if Obama didn't ban a few noisy critics.

        2. Jaybus

          "Were people banned in this manner?"

          Most likely. Someone as famous as Obama, or Trump, would attract thousands of loonies. That is like asking if the whitehouse.gov email servers have spam filtering. That brings up another interesting point. If his Twitter account must allow everyone to communicate, then must his e-mail account accept all spam mail?

      2. Halloween Jack

        "The plaintiffs allege that Trump and his aides have used the account to carry out official communications, but I don't recall anyone saying that before now,"

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMb3GbwbApY

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Spicer said that the Prexy's tweets were "official for President Trump" when asked if they were official period. Interesting, but I don't think Spicer's opinion (such as it is) would be considered very germane in court.

          Some are saying that Don's tweets are transmitting official policy, but that would require showing that tweets alone have sufficed to transmit Trump's policy orders, and I don't think that's happened yet. Somewhere, bureaucrats are pushing papers around with stamps and things on, to actually get stuff done.

          Okay maybe the tweets hint at policy, but do they actually carry the force of law? Can they be counted on to become the future, particularly with THIS President? He is known for changing his tactics occasionally...

  1. DagD

    "Not my President"

    @#therealdonaldtrump You're not my president.

    >>> Stop harrassing me

    @#therealdonaldtrump No - you are going to listen to your constituents!

    >>> Thought I wasn't your President...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Not my President"

      That's a very good point. They say he's not "our President" and now they want to make him to listen to them? Officially?

      They're undercutting The Resistance!

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: "Not my President"

        "You're not my president" is just wishful thinking at this stage though. He clearly is whether they like it or not.

  2. Danny 14 Silver badge

    Because starting a new account is so hard.

    1. collinsl

      Starting a new account is against the TOS

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    No-brainer

    " legal action may bring hostility."

    I don't see why - this whole case should be over in about 5 minutes, with judgement against Trump et al.

    It's a government information channel - you can't block citizens from seeing it.

    1. cirby

      Re: No-brainer

      You're right - you can't block citizens from seeing it.Which Trump hasn't done.

      You can still view his Tweets, even if he blocks you.

      You just can't reply directly to him - which he was going to ignore anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No-brainer

        But they demand that he NOT ignore them! They have rights!

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: No-brainer

          "They have rights!"

          yeah like the way smokers have "rights" to stand near doorways and act like asshats with their tobacco exhaust. No matter how irritating and/or disruptive, these activists are compelled to impose their "rights" on everyone else. I think the first ammendment has to do with RESTRICTING 'free speech', not walking into some forum and deliberately DISTURBING it because "you have rights".

          If a KKK member walked into a synagogue and began insulting everyone, you/'d want him arrested, right? But, but, FIRST AMMENDMENT! Well, having hecklers disturb the President's twitter feed is like someone walking on stage while he's making a speech. THEY were 'ejected', too, during the campaign, as I recall...

      2. collinsl

        Re: No-brainer

        He's used block instead of mute so his comments aren't visible to the people blocked.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: No-brainer

      "you can't block citizens from seeing it."

      Apparently NOBODY is blocked from "seeing it". Some people are blocked from POSTING TO IT, apparently

    3. SundogUK

      Re: No-brainer

      No one is blocked from seeing it. They are blocked from responding.

  4. Palpy

    Mmmm. Will hinge upon --

    -- the account, started as Trump's personal Twitter, has become a de jure official communication channel of the Office of the President. I think it's clearly a de facto channel for the President: he has made a number of policy announcements using the account. But what matters is how the law views it. The law, a lawyer once told me, is not about truth, ethics, right and wrong, or anything but... the law.

    1. Emmeran

      Re: Mmmm. Will hinge upon --

      The President has no personal rights, it's part of the job. Kind of like being in the military you become a different object type under the US Constitution.

      1. Palpy
        Pint

        Re: President has no personal rights.

        Well, that may be one way of thinking about it. Certainly the President has extraordinary rights -- executive privilege is one. The right to reveal classified information on his own recognizance.

        How the law will view this suit is a bit beyond my feeble powers of prediction. But have an upvote and a cold one.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mmmm. Will hinge upon --

        > "The President has no personal rights..."

        Is that in the Constitution? Oh, and even lowly military personnel have plenty of personal rights. They are not all relinquished upon volunteering, regardless what some people believe.

    2. handleoclast Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Mmmm. Will hinge upon --

      It is de facto not de jure.

      There is no statute or precedent making @RealDonaldTrump an official communication channel, so it is not an official communications channel de jure. That would not prevent a court ruling that Trump using it as a official communications channel means that it may legally be regarded as such (which would mean the court recognises it as a de facto official communications channel).

      Then again, IANAL, so I am probably loquitur ex meum asinus.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is what America's decline as a world power looks like.

    1. Emmeran

      Get bent - the best of y'all came here to make America the power that it is. This is just a minor glitch along the way and we're still better prepared for robogeddon than you Brits are. We've already dealt with Chinese human robots and that violent job shift.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Way to go proving his point...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "His point?" You mean "my point" don't you, AC?

          ;-/

  6. Florida1920 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    SMH

    This administration is so embarrassing, it's hard to believe.

    1. Emmeran

      Re: SMH

      I know, this is worse than Bill Clinton banging the intern (really, really bad).

      As a career Marine I cannot even begin to describe how I feel about the 2016 election clusterf*ck and the ensuing administration.

      1. Florida1920 Silver badge

        Re: SMH

        As a career Marine

        His tweet about the KC-130 crash: "Melania and I send our deepest condolences to all!"

        It's always all about him. He sure as hell doesn't represent our country.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: SMH

          > "His tweet about the KC-130 crash..."

          What exactly is your problem with this? The fact that trump acknowledges when our service members die in the line of duty? Unlike Obama? Who called the slaughter of so many by a jihadist at Fort Hood "workplace violence?" That was a mortal insult to all service members and we will never forget it.

          So I say Trump DOES represent the USA. Except for the people who cannot admit they are losers, of course.

          1. Florida1920 Silver badge

            Re: SMH

            What exactly is your problem with this?

            "Melania and I "

            ME ME ME ME ME ME

            Compare: "President Obama has offered America’s condolences to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the truck attack at a Christmas market in Berlin that killed at least 12 people."

            http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/20/obama-offers-condolences-merkel-after-truck-attack/

            What is he, the freaking King? FFS, what is your problem, that you can't see he's a narcissistic sociopath?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: SMH

              Calm down, okay? Have it your way, he's full of himself. He emotes for himself and his mate, rather than for all of America like Obama did. I agree.

              Trouble is, a lot of us really disliked how Obama chose to do that. At least Trump will be putting fewer words in our mouths, eh? Would you prefer that he speak for the nation, à la Obama? Wouldn't that be really unpleasant for you too?

              1. Florida1920 Silver badge

                Re: SMH

                Would you prefer that he speak for the nation, à la Obama?

                It would be a good start. But we're unlikely ever to hear something like that from a dude who is "honored" to meet Vladimir Putin. Obama bowed to some Middle Eastern leader, which apparently is the custom over there, and the Republicans went wild. I agree with John McCain, that Putin is a greater threat to global security than ISIS. Trump is Putin's beyotch, and that's embarrassing -- and scary.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: SMH

                  > "Obama bowed to some Middle Eastern leader, which apparently is the custom over there, and the Republicans went wild."

                  It's the custom all right, when inferiors are approaching kings. I bet you would make a really good supplicant.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SMH

        Career Marine? And you hate Trump? That would make you about the only one then. Most of the military is ecstatic at getting Obama's clammy hand off their necks. The lack of Presidential Apology tours helps a lot too.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: SMH

          Career Marine? And you hate Trump? That would make you about the only one then.

          Trump? Wasn't he the one that insulted a dead army captain and his parents?

          Some defender of the military..

      3. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: SMH

        @Emmeran

        I know, this is worse than Bill Clinton banging the intern (really, really bad).

        Unless there was coercion involved, which as I understand it has never been put forward, there is nothing wrong with Clinton banging the intern. Nothing illegal or immoral about it, they were both consenting adults.

        What was bad was the attempted cover-up and lying about it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: SMH

          > "Unless there was coercion involved, which as I understand it has never been put forward, there is nothing wrong with Clinton banging the intern. Nothing illegal or immoral about it, they were both consenting adults."

          You are so politically incorrect it's embarrassing. Bill C. was in a position of real power and took advantage of it sexually with a subordinate. Ask any feminist what that's called.

          I'll save you the time: It's Sexual Exploitation. Why is it that Democrats always get a pass on these crimes while Republicans always seem to attract such charges, even when evidence is lacking? It sure wasn't in Bill's case! Are leftists really that easily brainwashed? Or are they just cynical liars, always lunging for the main chance?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suppose it must be frustrating just in case the president or his son posts some incriminating evidence about a foreign power influencing elections which as I understand (though I'm not American) is illegal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Foreign powers are not subject to the US election laws. They may say whatever they like to "influence" us. We do it to them too.

      Oh, you must be referring to that fable about Russia "hacking" the election machinery to insure Mrs. Clinton's defeat. Yes, that would be wrong. Trouble is, no evidence at all has come to light suggesting such a thing, just a lot of wild accusations coming from the losers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm guessing you haven't seen the bit in the news where Trump Jr posted to Twitter an email trail where the Russians offered him information on Clinton?

        You couldn't make this shit up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What, you think this news is some kind of "gotcha" moment? What exactly did he do that was wrong? Lend an ear to potential dirt on a political opponent? So Hillary DOESN'T do that? If you believe that, I have some nice (former) swampland for you to look at...

  8. Roger B

    To play devil's advocate

    Technically you are not blocked from viewing his tweets, open a private browser window or a different browser from whatever you use for Twitter and go straight to twitter.com/realdonaldtrump and his tweets are all there to be viewed, you are only blocked form interacting with his account/sending him messages.

    Even if you are only using the mobile app, you can still use your browser to view his account.

    His follower count is another matter, if you have a look, a lot of the accounts have no profile picture, have never tweeted and have been made in the last month, they also follow a lot of celebrity twitter accounts. This is most likely the result of Trump's recently appointed pr manager/marketing manager/turd polisher who had stated he wanted to go on the offensive with social media, I guess this means he used tax payers money to buy a shit load of followers.

    1. Palpy

      Re: buy a shitload of followers...

      ... probably by paying a couple of college kids to code a bot-builder or two.

      1. Roger B

        Re: buy a shitload of followers...

        One or two of those 400 pound hackers he was so proud of? after all America has the best cyber.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To play devil's advocate

      > "I guess this means he used tax payers money to buy a shit load of followers."

      Belay that talk! You're gonna get this lawsuit tossed out!

    3. nijam

      Re: To play devil's advocate

      > ... stated he wanted to go on the offensive with social media

      Well, his tweets are certainly offensive, in the main.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TWATTER

    I DINT seenWHATS wring with MR president TRUMO and The FIRST LANDY MEGLOMANIA (nekkid me not HER)? from BONDING anyone's THEYNLIKE for saying bad STIFF IN TWOTTER. IF I was to Twit YOU saying YOU ARE INSINE the you WOULD want TO BONE ME pretty QUICKLY TWO, I bet a LOT OF PEEEEPLE want to bone ME RIGHT NOw right here TOo. But you WONT PENETRATE MY RING. of trust.

    SO let TRUMO BAN HWOMHE LIKES! When he likes! And I don't SEE WHATBTHE Ross was about Tramo banning muslin. MY MOM SAYS no-one uses MUSKIN MUSLIN any more, as a MERETRIAL . They use cotton OR DRAYLUN. SO why nut? But my mom IS CLEVER because SHE WONT SAY WHI MY POP is SOMWE GOT THREE OF EM paying welfare.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TWATTER

      More than 140 characters; Didn't read

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019