Submitted by Michael Scott of OilPrice.com
Trump has helped make Twitter one of the most amusingly exciting social media platforms on the planet–but a court now says he’ll have to swallow the bitter pill of criticism because this is, after all, a Democratic country. Judgment has been handed down: @realDonaldTrump violated the Constitution when he blocked critics on Twitter.
The ruling of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan saw a three-judge panel agree with a lower court judge ruling last year who said Trump was violating the First Amendment when he blocked critics on his Twitter account. According to the court, the First Amendment does not permit a public official using a social media account for “all manner of official purposes” to exclude people from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they disagree with the official.
Trump’s use of the blocking function was challenged by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, as well as seven Twitter users he had blocked, who included a journalist, a surgeon, and police officer and others. Judge Barrington Parker said that the president’s account on Twitter is indeed a public forum and that “once the President has chosen a platform and opened up its interactive space to millions of users and participants, he may not selectively exclude those whose views he disagrees with.”
The court’s decision upheld a May 2018 ruling by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan, which prompted Trump to unblock some accounts–but the president failed to oblige.
The heart of the matter is that this is a world that still doesn’t know what to make of Twitter.
Trump has rendered his social media accounts central to his presidency. The account is used to randomly to promote his agenda, fire people, announce resignations, and even as a foreign policy tool. It’s also used, vociferously, to attack his critics, which–as the court has ruled–is a two-way street.
The entire fiasco is a microcosm of Trump’s larger love-hate relationship with the tech world, in general.
Indeed, Trump appears to believe that the likes of Twitter, Google and Facebook are all ganging up on him.
Letting loose on Fox News last week, Trump claimed that Twitter was preventing him from getting followers–a conspiracy he alleged was “possibly illegal”.
“You know, I have millions and millions of followers but I will tell you, they make it very hard for people to join me in Twitter, and they make it very much harder for me to get out the message,” he said.
Trump warned both Twitter and Facebook that they need to “be careful”, after he launched an attack on Twitter, warning it the company that it might be prosecuted for making him look bad (along with Facebook and Google).
Days prior to this, Twitter announced it would begin labeling and demoting tweets from world leaders who violate its rules. Egged on by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who noted that Google is against Trump and doesn’t want him re-elected, Trump claimed to have won that elusive battle.
“I won. They were totally against me,” Trump said. “I won.”
Even last year, the White House said it was looking into whether tech companies were suppressing positive articles about the president after Trump accused Google of manipulating search results to make him look bad. The search engine was rigged “so that almost all stories & news is BAD”, he tweeted.
He may have a point, at least on one aspect: In July last year, it surfaced that unidentified activists had influenced Google’s algorithm so that when the word “idiot” was typed into Google’s image search, Trump’s was the first returned result. Those results are still active.
The court ruling comes as Trump is set to hold a Presidential Social Media Summit later this week.
Facebook and Twitter won’t be attending.
Instead, the White House has invited tech’s top conservative critics in politics and media.