You’re Blocked! Should Public Officials Be Allowed to Stifle Speech On Social Media?

Should the president be allowed to block someone on Twitter because of their critical views? Does it matter that the administration stated that the president uses the account to make official statements?

In legal terms, whether the First Amendment applies in such a case depends on whether there can be a “public forum” on social media. Following a 2017 Supreme Court decision that described social media as the “modern public square,” district courts across the country and one court of appeals have weighed in on the issue.

In the highest profile case, Knight Institute v. Trump, the Southern District of New York held that the @realDonaldTrump account was a designated public forum and that the president violated the First Amendment rights of Twitter users when he/his staff blocked them due to their critical tweets. However, the issue is far from settled and the case is on appeal.

Read my analysis of the issue in the Journal of Law, Technology & Policy Timely Tech.


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