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

    "But right now I feel only hope," she said. "The right to seek a legal remedy when the president violates my rights is an extraordinary thing, one of many things that makes America great."

    Tell that to the Mexicans and Muslims.

    1. BillG Silver badge
      Facepalm

      ...claims Trump's practice of blocking Twitter followers represents an unconstitutional attempt to suppress dissent.

      Like I keep telling people - yes, you have the right to voice your opinion. You do NOT have the right to demand others listen to your opinion.1

      .

      1I'm talking to the guy that always sits next to me at the pub and talks about his team to no one.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Or

      Options:

      Ban Trump from Twitter.

      Ban Twitter.

      Ignore his tweets

      1. Bloodbeastterror

        Re: Or

        Options:

        Ban Trump.

        FTFY. You're welcome.

      2. Chemical Bob

        Re: Options:

        I'll take option number 4 - custard.

        Its like number 3 only yummy.

    3. steve 124

      ID 10 T alert

      I'm going to take liberties here and assume the phrase "violates my rights" refers to 1st amendment rights to free speech (albeit that person is an idiot).

      So in that context, Mr. Coward, Mexicans and Muslims (non-naturalized) have no 1st amendment rights as they are not American citizens.

      Remember, Hillary didn't win, so the entire world population is not now a US citizen, despite what the media tell you.

      Next.

      1. ObeyThePoodle

        Re: ID 10 T alert

        U sure?

        https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/457/202

        Unless the Constitution expressly sets apart its protections to U.S. citizens, it protects non-citizens too.

        To be sure, there are important distinctions. For example, green card holders cannot vote like citizens despite being able to live and work freely in the U.S.

        Nevertheless, when the Constitution says “all persons” or “all people,” the Supreme Court has held that it means what it says. As far back as in 1886, in the Supreme Court held that “the guarantees of protection contained in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution extend to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, without regard to differences of race, of color, or of nationality.” (Yick Wo v. Hopkins) Not just members of a certain religion, not just members of a certain race, and not just individuals born in the U.S. All persons. All people.

        http://www.whitlockgray.com/2017/01/30/do-non-citizens-have-rights-under-the-constitution/

        1. Prndll

          Re: ID 10 T alert

          You slur the meaning.

          ALL people are equal.....yes. But The law as it is applied in Mexico does not treat basic human freedom the way it should. China doesn't either. Nor does Russia. The American Constitution has no jurisdiction over "Mexicans" as Mexicans are citizens of Mexico. They may have green cards and might be given the ability to work and even dwell in the US, but that does not in itself automaticly make them "US citizens" covered by all provisions of the US Constitution. More countries need to be run with something very similar to the US constitution. If they were, These principles would and actually could be applied to "all people".

          Mexicans and Muslims and anyone else that wishes to become American (US citizen) may at anytime. All are welcome.

          When you become American. You are American. NOT Mexican. Your heritage never changes but you do change. Otherwise, there would never be any point in the effort. The same thing should be just as easy to understand and be applied just as unilaterally to any Muslim wishing to become a citizen of the UK.

          Are these Mexicans changing and becoming American?

          Are these Muslims changing and becoming British?

          ------------------------------------------------------

          NO ONE HAS A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO TWITTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Twitter and the use there of is not and never will be a RIGHT!

          The same is true with Facebook. The same is true with MySpace (for the few that still might use that).

          Trump might have a twitter account and he might use it but NO ONE outside of 'Twitter' actually controls Twitter. If you have an account and that account gives you the ability to 'block' people from you conversations...........take it up with Twitter. If you don't think Trump should have that ability, then NO ONE should. Again....Take it up with Twitter.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: ID 10 T alert

            @Prndll Your statement doesn't make sense, so I'll rephrase it for you.

            Islam is a religion and Muslims are no different in that respect to any other religion (in general terms) and they can come from any country, including the USA or the UK. Your statement was, are these people giving up their religion to become American citizens? I thought part of the American constitution was religious freedom.

            Are these Catholics changing and becoming American?

            Are these Protestants changing and becoming American?

            Are these Pentacostalists changing and becoming American?

            Are these Jews changing and becoming American?

            Are these Evangelists changing and becoming American?

            Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

            1. Prndll

              Re: ID 10 T alert

              That isn't what I said.

              That's what you're saying.

              No one has to give up any religion. That is so completely opposite of the idea here. What I'm saying is that there is no point in it if your not going to willing become a citizen of the nation your living in. Unless your motives are something else. Many people have used the word 'assimilation'. Without that, the ultimate result is destruction. Although, that is exactly what is desired by many.

          2. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

            Re: ID 10 T alert

            ".. If they were, These principles would and actually could be applied to "all people"."

            "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

            - US Declaration of Independence"

            I'm finding it amazing how often I have to quote this to Americans. Notice how that very famous paragraph doesn't say "....that all AMERICANS are created equal." it says "All men".

            1. Jaybus

              Re: ID 10 T alert

              'Notice how that very famous paragraph doesn't say "....that all AMERICANS are created equal." it says "All men".'

              Notice that it is the Declaration of Independence and not the US Constitution, so doesn't pertain to this case.

              1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

                Re: ID 10 T alert

                "Notice that it is the Declaration of Independence and not the US Constitution, so doesn't pertain to this case."

                It is the founding statement of intent and principle of your nation. Or is it just bullshit words?

                It's make your mind up time, America.

        2. aelfheld

          Re: ID 10 T alert

          It's also been established that those in the country illegally do not enjoy the full panoply of rights protected by Constitution.

      2. Andromeda451

        Re: ID 10 T alert

        The loony left has been driving for "rights" for everyone...

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: ID 10 T alert

          The loony left has been driving for "rights" for everyone...

          You obviously haven't read the US Constitution and Bill of Rights..

          Done by those well-known socialists in the 18th Century

        2. aelfheld

          Re: ID 10 T alert

          While trying to shut down those specifically guaranteed in the Constitution.

      3. L05ER

        Re: ID 10 T alert

        it actually refers to the right to read some of the president's communications... part of governmental transparency.

        it's all bullshit, they want to force him to allow them to harras his account and mock his tweets. the only thing you can't do to a blocked account is: participate in the tweets. you can still see them while logged out.

      4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: ID 10 T alert

        Also, remember the 1st Amendment is about government censorship of speech, not some private person restricting who can see/hear it. As I understand it, the Twitter account is Trump's personal account which means he makes the rules.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: ID 10 T alert

          "As I understand it, the Twitter account is Trump's personal account which means he makes the rules."

          I think you missed the point of both the article and the legal challenge. It may have been created as a personal Twitter account but it has and is being used as an official presidential and White House comms channel and so ought to be subject to the same rules as other official comms channels.

          1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
            Boffin

            @John Brown... Re: ID 10 T alert

            Trump has two accounts. His own personal account and now the WH account that was created by Obama. While they may have rights to control the account, Twitter owns the system so you can't say that the twitter account is an extension of the government. You are essentially rewriting the laws on property ownership and rights.

            Having said that...

            If you look at Clinton's server, which is her own property, set up at her house... with the sole user being her and her staff and was her sole form of communication... you would have a better case making your statement that it was in fact a defacto work system and hence she ceded the property to the government.

            (I'm sure that there exists case law that would support that.)

            If you get bounced, what's to stop you from creating another account and then following Trump?

            Or having multiple Twitter accounts?

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: ID 10 T alert

          @a_yank_lurker read the story, by still using it, although he should be restricting his (official) communications to the official POTUS account, he has made it an official record of his presidency, so it is no longer his private account, because of his choosing.

          1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
            Boffin

            @Big D ... Re: ID 10 T alert

            Dude, you're so wrong its laughable.

            1) The official records act does not cover tweets, snap chats, or whatever... it would have to be updated to include these forms of communication. (It would also imply that all phone conversations should be transcribed and stored.... Same for videos of Trump's speeches and all photo ops. )

            2) You're confusing property rights and the Official records act. Assume that the Official records act did require the tweets to be saved. That can be done without claiming that this is now property of the US.

            3) The Obama administration set up the POTUS account. So were all of those tweets saved? Did Obama's Admin eject people from the stream?

            4) Property rights. Twitter owns the servers and provides a server. By your logic because Trump uses a phone, then the government owns the phone companies.

            Bottom line. The case should be dismissed with prejudice.

        3. SolidSquid

          Re: ID 10 T alert

          The point this lawsuit is making is that it's no longer a private account, but rather one run as part of the official communications of the White House (which makes other White House officials having access significant). It's also not necessarily about them being able to tweet directly at Trump, but also about being blocked from the public discourse regarding what seems to be official government statements in the replies to the tweets that are made.

          It might not be a completely clear cut case, but there's enough wiggle room there because of the way the account has been used that they might have a case, or at least will be able to get the law clarified on how government officials can use social media in their official capacity

        4. handleoclast Silver badge

          Re: As I understand it

          @a_yank_lurker

          You appear not to understand it very well. Or, at best, you are under-informed.

          Here is a press briefing by Sean Spicer where he says that Trump "is the President of the United States, so they're considered official statements by the President of the United States."

          So there you have the definitive, official answer on this. Until Trump decides to contradict what Spicey said. Which he probably will. And then the day after contradict himself.

          Whether or not that then means Americans have a constitutional right to respond to those tweets is another matter. But they are (until Trump changes his mind) official statements by POTUS even if they come from @RealDonaldTrump.

          1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
            Boffin

            @handleoclast ... Re: As I understand it

            Whoa!

            You want to play Perry Mason, first go to law school and learn something of the law.

            Trump tweets.

            You do not have a first amendment right to retweet. That doesn't mean you don't have the right to make a new tweet on the same topic.

            Seriously.... you really need to think about the law and what it covers and doesn't cover.

            Look at it this way... Trump is in a crowded stadium. You and your best buds decide to go to the event and then unroll a banner that is anti-Trump. While you have your rights to the first amendment, that doesn't mean that security can't tear down your banner and physically eject you from the event, or you getting arrested for trespassing.

            1. handleoclast Silver badge

              Re: @handleoclast ... As I understand it

              @Ian Michael Gumby

              The first amendment covers more than just freedom of speech. It also covers

              the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

              Knight Institute's argument is, as I understand it, that Trump has made @RealDonaldTrump a place for official presidential statements (or so Spicey said), and that twitter is a public forum where people peaceably assemble. There they petition Trump for a redress of grievances. Admittedly, most of those grievances are the fact that Trump is president, but that's irrelevant.

              Imagine what would happen if Trump decreed that news organizations could not publish anything he doesn't like about his official policy statements. Not even if it's true and not defamatory. That would be only a minor escalation of his Twitter policy.

              That doesn't mean Knight is certain to win the case, just that your argument doesn't prove they're going to lose. If it goes to the Supremes then they probably will lose, but if so that's likely to be a political rather than a legal decision.

              Your argument would apply to the White House web site. It's not a public forum. People have no right to reply in situ. Twitter is a public forum and Trump is using it to issue official policy statements. It's as if Trump suddenly decided to post official policy statements in these hallowed commentard pages and demanded that El Reg block anyone from replying to his posts if they said bad things about him.

              As others have pointed out, Trump could avoid the legal problem entirely by making the account read-only. What they didn't point out is why he won't do that: he wants the adulation. He craves adulation. He's desperate for adulation. So he won't make the account read-only.

              1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

                @Handleoclast ... Re: @handleoclast ... As I understand it

                Again, I suggest that you actually learn something of the law.

                First in the court system, the burden of the proof is on the plaintiff. So, if the claims are made, the plaintiff has to prove their case in court.

                With respect to Twitter, they are a <u>PRIVATE</u> company. They set the T's & C's and the features. Not the government.

                Here's the simple litmus test:

                1) Did the user violate the T's & C's of Twitter?

                2) Did Trump violate the T's & C's of Twitter for blocking a follower from following them?

                3) Assuming that Twitter didn't ban the user... Did Trump's blocking the user remove the user's ability to tweet on his own? gather and maintain his own set of followers? (Note: this is your interpretation of 'assembly' )

                Then answer to each of these questions is no.

                There's more... none of which supports your argument and views of the law.

                Seriously, the lawyers who bring these types of 'creative' lawsuits should be sanctioned by the bar. Using the law to harass

                1. handleoclast Silver badge

                  Re: @Handleoclast ... @handleoclast ... As I understand it

                  @Ian Michael Gumby

                  You have produced a concise summary of Twitter's legal position. It may or may not be correct but I don't really care either way.

                  What you have completely ignored is the US Constitution and case law surrounding it that apply to official presidential communications and the first amendment.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: As I understand it

            Whether or not that then means Americans have a constitutional right to respond to those tweets is another matter.

            I think it's not a matter of yes or no, it's a matter of all or none. Trump freezing out critics amounts to censorship, which is treating critics wilfully different to others and the legality of that is what this lawsuit will have to clarify.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: As I understand it

              Whether or not that then means Americans have a constitutional right to respond to those tweets is another matter.

              It is more that they have a constitutional right to see those posts from the President. That is a legal requirement, which Trump is denying some US users of Twitter.

              (Yes, technically, you could log out of Twitter, look at Trumps tweets, then log back in, if you are on the web; if you are using the App, you can't view anything if you are logged out and you can't view Trump's missives if you are logged in.)

              It seems they also have the right to be heard in their replies, but it is allegedly illegal for Trump and his team to block them from seeing his tweets. That is where the case seeks clarity.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ID 10 T alert

        "So in that context, Mr. Coward, Mexicans and Muslims (non-naturalized) have no 1st amendment rights as they are not American citizens."

        Really? I was referencing those that were naturalised and are American citizens. Lest we forget previous presidential orders about immigration changing the existing rules.

        I'm not even American but come on, you can't say "come here" and "f*ck off" at the same time.

        I'm glad Hillary didn't win, that would be like having to sit through 4 years of adam sandler films, now we get eddie murphey, dan ackroyd, John Balushi etc... some of the greatest comedy legends of all time.

        Popcorn is on and at the ready.

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: ID 10 T alert

          "I'm glad Hillary didn't win, that would be like having to sit through 4 years of adam sandler films, now we get eddie murphey, dan ackroyd, John Balushi etc... some of the greatest comedy legends of all time."

          You forgot Bill Cosby. And Rupert Pupkin.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: ID 10 T alert

          “Give me your tired, your poor,

          Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

          The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

          Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

          I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

          That has been the way America has been seen for the last century and a half.

          Now, in 2017, that seems to be

          "Keep your tired, your poor

          Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

          The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

          Keep them, the homeless, the entrepreneurs, tempest-tossed,

          I have doused my lamp and closed the golden door!"

        3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Re: ID 10 T alert

          I'm not even American but come on, you can't say "come here" and "f*ck off" at the same time.

          Steven Wright can: he called his dog "Stay" :)

      6. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        Boffin

        @ Steve 124 Re: ID 10 T alert

        Within the US, even illegal aliens have rights.

        But here's the thing...

        1) Twitter is not the US Government.

        2) The burden is on the plaintiff to show that their first amendment rights were in fact violated.

        Trump has his personal account and the WH account. In both he and his staff have the right to control or block whom they wish. Its a feature of Twitter.

        So if Trump blocks George Stephanopulos for being a weenie, that doesn't stop George Stephanopulos from creating another account to listen to Trump's tweets. Note: I do know George from way back when and yes, he's a weenie. ;-)

        The case is noise and should be dismissed outright.

        1. SolidSquid

          Re: @ Steve 124 ID 10 T alert

          "So if Trump blocks George Stephanopulos for being a weenie, that doesn't stop George Stephanopulos from creating another account to listen to Trump's tweets."

          Pretty sure that's a breach of Twitters terms and conditions, so couldn't be used as part of a legal argument that he could still gain access.

          1. SundogUK

            Re: @ Steve 124 ID 10 T alert

            You don't even need an account. I don't have one and I am reading his tweets right now...

          2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

            Re: @ Steve 124 ID 10 T alert

            So Twitter says George Stephanopolus can be a weenie?

            Works for me.

        2. Velv Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: @ Ian Michael Gumby

          "Trump has his personal account and the WH account. In both he and his staff have the right to control or block whom they wish. Its a feature of Twitter."

          And if they were personal accounts you would be right. But they are being used to make official government statements, and therefore fall under the laws that control official government communications which must be available to all citizens equally.

          1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
            Flame

            @Velv Re: @ Ian Michael Gumby

            Again, I suggest that you get a handle on property law.

            Your First Amendment right to free speech is that you have the right to speak your mind as long as it isn't hate speech and/or qualifies as protected speech. Note that not all speech is protected under the first amendment.

            If Trump or the WH block you from their account, does that mean that you can't post using your own twitter account? The answer is no. Unless you violate the rules of Twitter which is a private company, you can set up your own account and tweet whatever you want as long as its not a violation of Twitter.

            So your argument falls flat.

            There's more, but that alone kills the lawsuit.

            You say " But they are being used to make official government statements, and therefore fall under the laws that control official government communications which must be available to all citizens equally."

            Again, I suggest you actually learn the law before making such a silly statement.

            <boom mic drop>

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @ Steve 124 ID 10 T alert

          I think we need to see how this plays out in court, but it's genius IMHO.

          1) Twitter is not the US Government.

          No, but as soon as you use it as an official government channel (which is what Trump has done) it attracts the rules for government communication

          2) The burden is on the plaintiff to show that their first amendment rights were in fact violated.

          The argument is that either Trump allows ALL or allows NONE to comment, he does not get to cherry pick who can comment because that quite simply then amounts to censorship.

          Where this gets amusing is that this now burdens Twitter with the problem of keeping trolls away from that account. Negative comments are not trolls, so they'll have to be quite careful how they walk that line which is IMHO fantastically amusing in itself (not a fan of either Twitter and Trump) - if this lawsuit succeeds Twitter risks a lawsuit every time they block a troll.

          It may very well render the Trump account unusable, which would IMHO be exceptionally good news for the US and the world.

      7. James Loughner

        Re: ID 10 T alert

        ALL Men are endowed with certain inalienably rights which include life liberty and pursuit of happiness.

      8. Phil W

        Re: ID 10 T alert

        @AC and steve 124 "Mexicans and Muslims (non-naturalized) have no 1st amendment rights as they are not American citizens."

        Despite what Trump and the media may tell you "Muslim" is not a nationality, it is a religion just like Christianity, Judaism, Taoism, Buddhism or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and has nothing more to do with rights of citizenship than any of them do.

        While you may be right about Mexicans (or citizens of any other country), there are plenty of Muslims in the USA whose families have been there for countless generations so no naturlisation involved.

        @BillG "yes, you have the right to voice your opinion. You do NOT have the right to demand others listen to your opinion"

        While that is generally true, this is a bit of grey area because it's social media (hence the legal case which will firm this up). If the @RealDonaldTrump account is to be consider an official public communications channel of the President, then blocking people from seeing what the President says there has serious legal implications since in practice it is akin to trying to the President trying to prevent that person seeing any other official public statement he makes, and making any kind of public response to that statement.

        You'd think it ridiculous if the President tried to issue an Executive Order stating that Steven King wasn't allowed to read any newspaper articles with his statements in or watch any of his statements/interviews of TV, and wasn't allowed to publicly publish any criticism of them.

        Fundamentally the problem here is that Trump is using 'Block' rather than 'Mute', one limits what the other person can do while the other just prevents you having to see what they have to say, for someone like the POTUS there is an important legal difference.

        1. SundogUK

          Re: ID 10 T alert

          This is rubbish. I don't even have a twitter account and I can follow what he says. YOU DO NOT NEED A TWITTER ACCOUNT TO FOLLOW A TWITTER USER.

          1. Velv Silver badge
            Big Brother

            @SundogUK

            "This is rubbish. I don't even have a twitter account and I can follow what he says. YOU DO NOT NEED A TWITTER ACCOUNT TO FOLLOW A TWITTER USER."

            But you do need an account to take part in the debate, be that to provide evidence in support or contradiction of the debate, and by blocking select users you are censoring the debate. And while that may be OK for private citizens who only want to hear what they want to hear, it is government censorship if it's is the President or his office that choose to block citizens.

      9. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

        Re: ID 10 T alert

        "ID 10 T alert"

        Good of you to use that as your post title, just to warn us you were posting.

      10. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: ID 10 T alert

        Psst. In the US you need not be a citizen for the Constitution to apply to you . If yu area green card holder but not a citizen you have all the rights of citizen except for voting in federal elections. green card holders can buy guns in the US. When we still had the draft green card holders could be drafted.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      "the right to seek a legal remedy"

      read: "the so-called right to ABuse the court system in order to SCREW EVERYBODY ELSE by judge-shopping until some activist does 'yet another injunction'"

      asshats and trolls, in actuality. It's why you're allowed to BLOCK THEM with Twitter feeds, apparently.

      OR... maybe Twitter can make it a "read only" feed!!! [then NOBODY can comment]

  2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    This should be interesting.

    1. Big John Silver badge

      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. Big John Silver badge

          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. Big John Silver badge

          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...

  3. 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. Big John Silver badge

      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.

  4. Danny 14 Silver badge

    Because starting a new account is so hard.

    1. collinsl

      Starting a new account is against the TOS

  5. 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. Big John Silver badge

        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.

  6. 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. Big John Silver badge

        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.

  7. 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. Big John Silver badge

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

          ;-/

  8. 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. Big John Silver badge

          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. Big John Silver badge

              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. Big John Silver badge

                  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. Big John Silver badge

        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. Big John Silver badge

          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?

  9. 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. Big John Silver badge

      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. Big John Silver badge

          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...

  10. 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. Big John Silver badge

      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 Silver badge

      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.

  11. 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

    2. CentralCoasty
      Pint

      Re: TWATTER

      Down-votes? Really?

      The imagery this writer presents when I read their posts always makes me chuckle.....

      .... that and of course bringing to memory certain scenes from "Deliverance".......

      Anyway have an up vote and a beer.... not for the content, but rather than amusement value!

  12. nilfs2
    Facepalm

    Why would anyone wants to read Trump's twitts?

    1. Roger B

      Well if you ever want the rollercoaster ride of hilarity, disbelief and outrage, that's the place to be, he usually starts about 130pm UK BST, you do need to get used to the pauses if he is on a roll though, his small fingers don't always work the touchscreen to well and he can keep you hanging on for 10 minutes or so if he is doing one of his multi tweet messages, or regurgitating something from the Fox new network.

    2. Big John Silver badge

      > "Why would anyone wants to read Trump's twitts?"

      I finally agree with you. I don't Twitt and the idea of looking at them coming from an ego Trump's size is rather off-putting as well. This lawsuit is very ill-considered.

    3. eldakka Silver badge

      Why would anyone wants to read Trump's twitts?

      1) Entertainment;

      2) Since it is a defacto official Presidential communications channel, anyone taking an active interest in the government and the running of the country would want to read them?

      (PS I don't, but doesn't mean I can't understand why others would)

  13. DoctorNine

    I wonder...

    Isn't arguing about Twitter, by reference to The US Constitution, kinda like arguing about Jesus, and which type of saddle he used when he rode his dinosaur?

  14. billdehaan

    Exactly what law is being passed here?

    The First Amendment to the United States Constitution "prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances".

    To my knowledge, no law has been passed. Nor has anyone's right to speech, assembly, or religion has been been abridged.

    If the US president gives a speech and you can't get into the auditorium, are your rights being denied?

    If the president invites people into the Oval Office but doesn't let others in, can those others sue?

    This looks more like a publicity stunt than a serious legal issue.

  15. Erik_Aamot

    Websites like Twitter .. Facebook .. blogs are private entities _not_ public forums

    There is no right to free speech on anothers property .. virtual or not

    The owners can boot you out anytime .. for any reason

  16. Louis Schreurs BEng

    partisan opinions

    I really dislike the murrican commenters of being so extremely polariSed.

    Smudges this beautiful website.

    1. Big John Silver badge

      Re: partisan opinions

      I really dislike people who invent derogatory names and stick them on people they hate.

      Smudge elsewhere, luser.

  17. Sirius Lee

    Another ridiculous lawsuit

    The consequences of this lawsuit succeeding could be terrible. The internet and platforms like Twitter are haunted by obsessives with, it seems, nothing better to do than trash talk anyone.

    Presumably if blocking users on Twitter applies to the POTUS then is has to apply to everyone. At that point Twitter users are unable to block stalkers. Imagine any vulnerable group: women, kids, old folks, minorities not being able to block the views of those vehemently opposed to them or seeking to exploit them.

    So which is worse? Some obsessives vehemently opposed to the current POTUS being blocked or allowing obsessive and potentially dangerous people to stalk and harass members of any vulnerable group. I know I'd opt to let the POTUS block whom ever he (or she) wants and, so, upset a few media savvy luvvies who will, anyway, be able to make themselves heard.

    Of course some will say the solution is to only prevent the POTUS from blocking but that option brings with it a whole host of other constitutional problems.

    1. PapaD

      Re: Another ridiculous lawsuit

      Please don't use Strawman arguments

      The reasoning here is that because Trumps twitter account is being used as an official communication tool of the president, then it has to abide by the same rules that other official communication tools of the president abide by.

      What they are, i couldn't tell you - i'll leave that to the lawyers and politicians to work out.

      What it isn't is a purely private account - and any comparison between this account and the official account of any other government office is purely a strawman.

      If the lawsuit wins, and forces Trump to unblock everyone he has blocked, and not block them in the future, this won't then mean that the vulnerable user blocking their abusers will then have to unblock them.

      It will also not mean that Trump can't mute anyone he wants.

    2. nijam Silver badge

      Re: Another ridiculous lawsuit

      > obsessives with, it seems, nothing better to do than trash talk anyone

      Surely that's no way to describe the realTrumpingDonald.

  18. PatientOne

    Something seems to have been missed...

    Strangely, the BBC article reports they *mocked* and criticized Trump. Seems people are focused on the criticism, which is fair, but if they were mocking him - that could be why they got blocked.

    Still, that's supposedly why there are courts: To act as arbitors and to interpret the law to say who was in the right and who was not. Be interesting to see what the court has to say (if it gets that far).

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