I think there's a lot of nuance this opinion doesn't address.
Equivalently, the judge seems to have concluded that the President muting someone on Twitter is fine, but blocking them is not.
If it were a personal account, with personal views being posted, blocking would be fine. You could probably even make your account private and only allow approved followers. But, that's not the case here.
Application of the same rule applief here to local officials actually preceded this decision.
> I think there's a lot of nuance this opinion doesn't address.
Trial court decisions are not legislation—or even appellate decision where there is a need except in unusual circumstances to articulate a reusable rule. They tend to apply law narrowly to the facts of the case in front of them, not address nuance involving hypothetical circumstances not at issue.
These same people can right letters, after all. The politician doesn't have to read these letters nor respond to them. But in doing so, they can't keep people from sending letters nor stop them from getting information about the office.
In short: When they use their tech for political motives, the politician's want to block people doesn't overturn the people's right to get information from the source, be it twitter or a press release on the government's website.
> can't block me on Twitter if I go on crazy racist tirades
If they did have to read it (again, not sure), they wouldn't be forced to retweet it. So some poor soul would have to read that vitriol but you wouldn't be defacing their profile.
In other places it is an appointment by the local board of commissioners or mayor, making it a public position. In still others, like your example, it's a contract position the local government bids on like any other contractor.
I think there’s a separate argument as to whether the President can actually separate public and private statements, not that Trump has made any attempt to do so - he has been clear that his posts on his personal feed represent official statements from his office.
do you mean techcrunch article's opinion or the judicial opinion?
That isn't how this works. Just because Twitter allows people to block stuff, doesn't mean Trump gets to block stuff.
In a "normal" government, they'd pick a vendor with software that would let them make official policy statements in a way that complied with the laws around people having the right to reach out to their government officials.
Just 'cause twitter's software lets him do something doesn't make actually doing that thing legal, moral, or ethical.
This judgement makes perfect sense and is completely reasonable when you remember that technology is a mere tool designed to serve humans. Just cause you can do something in a tool doesn't make it right.
Put more plainly:
The judgement makes perfect sense once you understand that government officials' actions are regulated in ways that private citizens' actions are not. If a government official uses a tool designed for private citizens, his actions may still be restricted compared to what private citizens can legally do.
Spam and a harassment is a problem. Let the people he blocks make a new account to follow him or open an incognito window.
To the extent that's true, they aren't problems that require viewpoint censorship to combat.
The ruling would be completely different if he was still private citizen Trump. He'd be free to block whomever he chose.
But he is President Trump and he's the one who chose to make his own private Twitter account function as his Presidential outlet to the world. So, different rules apply.
He had a perfectly good presidential Twitter account, but he's the one who chose to not use it. Let the chips fall where they may.
That's not how this works.
Trump a big boy playing a big boy game now. He can't just block anybody he wants on twitter and expect them to create a new account. What if that twitter handle he blocks is a well known journalist or something? You expect that person to create a new account just to call him out or retweet his stuff?
Seriously, spend 5 minutes and think about what you are arguing. You are saying that citizens might need to go into incognito mode to view the presidents posts because the president of the united states blocked their twitter account! Say that out loud and tell me how that isn't scary as hell. Governments should not do that sort of thing. That reads almost like a dystopian future sci-fi novel or something.
Yes there are spammers, bots and others and absolutely it is a hard problem to somehow filter out the non-human garbage that gets posted while also fulfilling your ethical and legal obligations to allow all citizens to participate in a democratic government. Who knows if that is even a solvable problem.
That's the distinction the judge made - Trump uses his feed as an official government policy mouthpiece.
These statements can have legal power behind them such as declassifying documents.
Sorry but you are wrong. Trump's administration has stated that his tweets are official statements. Meaning, he can't block people who reply to his tweets.
For those who don't want to click, it collects Trump's tweets in real-ish time, and reframes them into images of official-looking messages. The latest one as of the time I post this comment begins:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2018
Statement by the President
Well, the important part is that the judge stuck it to Trump. That’s really all that matters to some people.
Not if you consider the nature of a public official. It's not that Trump is The President, he's A President - one of many in a line stretching back to George Washington and hopefully, stretching forward for millennia to come. There's nothing singular or unique about his occupation of that office (well, hopefully you get my meaning there).
As such, he should be expected to behave by the laws governing the office, not the laws governing the individual in the office.
It would be different if he were a king, whose rights and powers supposedly descend from God (at least in European tradition). First, he would be making the laws up, possibly from the whole cloth, and second, a king, by divine right, is answerable to none but himself and God.
Not unless the government is the entity doing the banning (or collaborating with Twitter to ban accounts at its request).
If the government ran its own Mastodon instance, then there would be an argument to be made that it couldn't ban users on that Mastodon instance, depending on the nature of that Mastodon instance and what it's used for. But that's not what's happening. The government does not run Twitter in any way; they're simply users of the platform, and the government's ability to use features of the platform (such as the "block" feature) may be limited by existing laws, the same way the government's ability to do other things in life is limited by existing laws.
If one of the ways to interact with the executive branch is by calling the white house, wouldn't telecoms banning you from having a phone number be a more similar analogy?
No, because that's not what this ruling does. This ruling says that the White House can't block incoming calls from a specific number.
(Though even that's not really a great analogy, because phone numbers are not considered to correspond uniquely or permanently to an individual the way that social media accounts are).
If the government, for some reason, decided to only communicate via telephone calls, there would still be no duty on any private phone company to provide anyone with the ability to call the government. The government would implicitly require itself to start up and operate a public telephone company, so that any person unwilling or unable to make phone calls via a private company could use it to communicate with the government instead.
In all likelihood, this would mean that VoIP phone booths would appear in every post office, and only calls from those phones to phones registered to government offices would be connected. They wouldn't even necessarily have to use phone numbers or connect to the PSTN; a .gov or .us SIP registration server would do.
For private services, if the government uses them at all, it must use them in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner. The private company has no duty to enforce this on its government users, or to police their behavior.
> Surely that must mean that Twitter banning people is also a violation of the first amendment
Right, and it's nonsensical to apply the first amendment to Twitter, because, broadly speaking, users don't have standing to make First Amendment claims against a private entity like Twitter.
If Twitter is banning people in a problematic way, or in problematic numbers, then there might be an argument that the government can't use Twitter to publish breaking news or announce policy changes. There are, in fact, separate lawsuits around this. But still, that's a far cry from saying "Twitter banning people is a violation of the First Amendment".
But twitter is working with the government in hosting the tweets and thus assumes responsibility to provide a public square, in which case it cannot ban people.
Otherwise government should be banned from using twitter because by picking a private company to put government messages on, the government official (in this case Trump) is picking that company's existing policy (what ever it may be) as a means of banning people, which the government isn't allowed to do.
No. No it doesn't. Allowing the government to use your service does not thereby make it part of the government.
(Nitpick: "free speech" is a general philosophical concept; we're talking about the 1st Amendment, which is a particular application of one of many views on that concept)
I'm assuming you're a developer. Have you ever wanted to leverage a piece of code, say GPL licensed, that does everything you want it to, checks off all of the development boxes, would make your life amazing.... but were forced to go with something else because of compliance? Same thing here. Just because Twitter does everything functionally they need, if it forces them into situations that would run afoul of their requirements, then they're forced to go a different avenue.
> Allowing the government to use your service [as its preferred way of communicating] does not thereby make it part of the government.
a judge doesn't have the capability, however, to force a private entity unrelated to the government to honor those same requirements.
Yes, it does create a situation where the company can impact a person's capability to see the material, but it doesn't run afoul of anything legal. If anything, it gives a reason why public officials should not use in this capacity platforms they don't control.
It focuses on the impact to the blocked user’s ability to interact with those tweets and the ensuing public discussion but does not assume any obligation on Trump to read replies.
You're overlooking the fact that requiring Twitter to retroactively alter its own terms of service once it provided services to the government would be a violation of the takings clause. In your hypothetical example, it's more likely that a court would enjoin the government official from use of the company with the overly restrictive ToS for official business, rather than forcing the firm to alter its policy.
I'm glad I don't live in a world where people refuse to prepare for court cases until the actual injury has happened. Many legal groups have built plans and arguments for potential injuries, either to test if their clients can do some behavior, or to have a proactive case against the government if the government takes some action. For example, many times when the ACLU challenges a law in court, they were planning for it long before the law actually passed. They can't engage in the actual challenge until there are injuries, but they sure can discuss it and plan for it.
In this particular instance, I'm not trying to launch an actual court case, so the court rules of when you have standing for a court case don't apply.
And the ruling only applies to the President's (currently Trump) use of Twitter and says nothing about your interaction with that service.
As a private entity, they're free to make a ToS and you're free to agree or reject it, which governs your usage.
Now, twitter banning someone from all other parts of its service wouldn't be impacted. But banning someone from participating in the public forum should no longer be allowed unless done for a reason that the government would be allowed to use as well.
The judgement governs the President's use of Twitter, not the interaction between Twitter and other people. Twitter does not magically become a Public Forum, just because the President uses it.
Now, I'm not sure that is Right and Just, but I'm also not going to worry about it too much. I don't use it enough to get completely wound up about it.
If twitter isnt a public forum, then trump should be able to block whoever he wants.
Yes, including the ability to deny entry to anyone that Trump doesn't want there. But now a judge has ruled they have a right to be there if Trump was the one asking to ban them, but in doing so has created a loophole where as long as I want to deny them entry because Trump doesn't want them to be there (note that this isn't done on behalf of Trump, but because it is my own desire) they can be banned. It makes the judge's ruling extremely easy to work around, which indicates some fundamental problem with the ruling.
The equivalence you drew doesn't seem valid — US citizens have no expectation or right to send communications to the Office of the President and have them read or acted upon. They do have that expectation/right to have equal access to public communications by the President.
The parent was pointing out why the logic is dubious, using a reductio: if you consider Twitter a public square (as the court does), and thus you can't stop people from "petitioning the government" through it, then it's a double-edged sword: they must also protect the same speech that would be protected in a public square.
It seems a more sane resolution is to treat Twitter like a private venue where an official addresses some members of the public, like the room for the Correspondents Dinner: they have no obligation to let any specific person in (esp. after they're deemed abusive). It's just that Twitter is a private venue with a much higher capacity.
The right to petition the government is not the right to petition it in every possible venue. US Citizenship or personhood does not mean you can e.g. ask questions at a press room briefing; there are filters they can apply.
 technically, the subset of it involving interaction with government officials
Yes they were. The first amendment does not apply to Twitter. It applies to Trump. Absolutely nothing Twitter does is even capable of being a 1st Amendment issue.
Not true of Trump.
>Yes they were.
>Absolutely nothing Twitter does is even capable of being a 1st Amendment issue.
I agreed with that:
>>if you consider Twitter a public square (as the court does), and thus you can't stop people from "petitioning the government" through it, then it's a double-edged sword: they must also protect the same speech that would be protected in a public square.
Do you understand the difference between "A implies B" and "A is true"? I was saying the former. I agree with you that the latter is false (where A="The first amendment applies to Twitter).
Can you help me to find the part of my original comment that made the above unclear?
Here: "that must mean that Twitter banning people is also a violation of the first amendment"
That's... pretty darn clear.
> Can you help me to find the part of my original comment that made the above unclear?
The first two lines of your comment frame your response as counter to the position of the person you are replying to. That would be counter to you new claim that you agree it's not a 1st Amendment issue.
Disagreement with a claim followed by an argument is generally taken by readers as an argument as to why the claim is wrong, not right. Just so you know for future writing.
>That's... pretty darn clear.
Yes, it's clearly supporting exactly what I originally claimed: that the OP was saying this ruling implies that Twitter must do X and is therefore absurd, not that the OP thinks Twitter must do X. Again, the concept of a reductio ad absurdum, extremely common in internet forums like this one: "You claimed X, which implies Y, which is absurd. So X must be wrong."
"The first amendment doesn't apply to Twitter" doesn't engage with that at all.
>The first two lines of your comment frame your response as counter to the position of the person you are replying to. That would be counter to you new claim that you agree it's not a 1st Amendment issue.
Not when I'm objecting to the attribution and clarified specifically what I meant.
>Disagreement with a claim followed by an argument is generally taken by readers as an argument as to why the claim is wrong, not right. Just so you know for future writing.
What about when I disagree with the attribution of a claim and want to clarify someone's point? What other way could I have possibly clarified the parent's point so that you wouldn't misinterpret my comment? Just so I know for future writing.
If you just didn't read what I wrote or didn't follow the actual discussion, you should probably just own up to it and not make up some story about how there's an actual improvement possible over the original post. (FWIW, you still can't seem to think of such an improvement.)
If I may make a suggestion, the problem might be that you immediately think that any critical comment must be disagreeing with everything in that comment, even if the text of comment says otherwise, and you can therefore ignore the text. That's an error on your end to correct, and there's nothing in my writing that would fix it.
The court emphatically did not find that, and, to address the footnote:
>  technically, the subset of it involving interaction with government officials
Nope, not even that.
The court found the virtual space created by the @realDonaldTrump account, specifically, to be, as a result of government action, a “public forum” under existing First Amendment case law, which holds that government actions with regard to participation in such a forum are restricted by the First Amendment such that government officials may not engage in, among other things, viewpoint-based censorship of public participation in such forums.
> It seems a more sane resolution is to treat Twitter like a private venue where an official addresses some members of the public
The court hear is applying exactly the existing law of privately owned spaces in which the government opens a public interactive forum of the same type; this isn't a new rule for social media.
>The court emphatically did not find that [Twitter is a public square]
>> technically, the subset of it involving interaction with government officials
>Nope, not even that
>The court found the virtual space created by the @realDonaldTrump account, specifically, to be, as a result of government action, a “public forum” under existing First Amendment case law,
Wait, what? You just said that the court did not find find Twitter to be a public square ... then you said that it found Twitter to be a public "forum". So... you're introducing a distinction between a public square and a public forum? It seems that obligates you to explain the difference between the two, or you're just contradicting yourself. And yet you didn't, or you expect it to be obvious, even though the chief way to resolve the disagreement would be to address precisely that distinction!
You also made a big show of objecting to my claim that the applicability was to a subset of Twitter, and then in the very next line said that the applicability is to "the virtual space created by the [Trump] account". Er ... yeah, that's a subset of Twitter!
Now, I agree I could have been more precise about the boundaries of this subset, but it seems either pedantic or confused on your part to object to that line right before you paraphrase the part of the decision that limits the applicability to a subset of Twitter! I honestly don't know what you think you're refuting there. Even if the bulk of my point is wrong, the footnote is correct insofar as it recognizes that the ruling is limited to certain government-related parts of Twitter, which you agree with.
>> It seems a more sane resolution is to treat Twitter like a private venue where an official addresses some members of the public
>The court hear is applying exactly the existing law of privately owned spaces in which the government opens a public interactive forum of the same type; this isn't a new rule for social media.
Yes, you can certainly claim that, and cite reasoning that says as much, but it's not responsive to my justification for why it doesn't make sense to begin with. As an attempt to ground my disagreement, I introduced a comparison to a press conference or the correspondent's dinner, and characterized Trump's Twitter interaction as being the same kind of thing "with more capacity". Many government pronouncements do not happen in an environment in which they have to permit everyone's comments -- certainly not announcements of new policy decisions.
I agree that you can copy-paste someone's decision that "hey, I'm calling this a public forum". But I gave a specific reason why it isn't. To further the discussion would require articulation of why that reasoning is flawed, not simply a repetition of the judge's original premises.
So, I appreciate that you think I erred and are trying to correct a mistake, but I just don't see how your comment makes headway: you're just introducing distinctions that you don't justify, denying claims and then apparently agreeing with them, and then reasserting things that I specifically objected to with reasoning without addressing said reasoning. I don't know what you expect such a comment to accomplish beyond showing that you can paraphrase a decision while not engaging with the precise objections to it.
Furthermore, the entire point of my comment was to clarify the OP's point, so any objection to the substance of said point should be directed at the OP's comment, armed with the greater clarity of their point that my comment offered, not to mine.
If your goal was to appear knowledgeable of the ruling and too informed for anyone to risk disagreeing with, your comment makes a lot more sense though. I don't find that to be as helpful as direct engagement with arguments though.
Edit: as pointed out, this ruling doesn't actually disagree with what the previous comment said. It does seem similar enough to me to be relevant though so leaving it up.
So, hypothetically speaking... if Trump would move to a social network owned by his friend... then Trump would not be allowed to block anyone, but it would be okay if the friend would take a hint and ban the person from the whole platform?
It's funny how this would elevate his twitter account to unprecedented status, which means twitter will have to implement some bizarre measures.
And this status is not an unprecedented one for government-controlled social media accounts; while the Trump case at issue here is the highest profile one to have reached a decision, it is not the first to find a government agency’s or official’s social media account to constitute a public forum in which viewpoint censorship by government of other users is prohibited.
Also, the decision constrains Trump's behavior on Twitter, it does not mandate any change to Twitter features.
Even if it were a public forum (which not all public events involving a government official are), I'm not sure that public forum law prohibits sex discrimination as well as viewpoint censorship. I can see an argument that it should (and that it shouldn't), but I don't recall. seeing any case law either way.
Either way, the fact that it is a private rule means it is not a public law. The government doesn't have to abide by laws you just made up for yourself on a whim. If I say "no shoes allowed on my private property" the police aren't forced to comply with that, so why would a government official at an event be required to comply with some inane sexist rule?
I wouldn't bet against there being some jurisdiction where it is a felony.
If you permit them to enter, and you have a no shoes rule posted, they are free to enter with shoes. Because such a sign means fuck all in the world.
Also it's not clear to me that Twitter has to do anything with Trump's account. The judgement is against Trump, not against Twitter. Trump isn't allowed to use the block button, but Twitter is not under any obligation to prevent him from using it illegally. Just the same that Twitter is not under any obligation to implement extra safeguards for twitter accounts owned by people whose conditions of parole restrict their use of social media--that's the user's issue, not Twitter's.
On the other hand, if the judge wanted to see this change, requiring Twitter to both remove (his) block button and unblock all existing users (from his account only) would more likely happen.
He's not (barring reversal on appeal) immune, or this case would never have reached a judgement.
> On the other hand, if the judge wanted to see this change, requiring Twitter to both remove (his) block button and unblock all existing users (from his account only) would more likely happen.
Judges don't have unlimited freedom to arbitrarily issue orders directing labor of nonparties to a case just because they suspect s party might not respect the judgement. There are, in any case, processes for addressing failure of a party to respect a judgement, which Trump is no more immune to regarding this judgement than he is to the case resulting in the judgement.
And what are those? For regular people, the judge can have a person jailed for contempt of court. I doubt that the POTUS is worried about that.
Case law would disagree. Here's a case where the Supreme court ruled that Facebook banning someone was a violation of their first amendment rights.  Salient quote: "Foreclosing access to social media altogether thus prevents users from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights"
Edit: as pointed out, this ruling doesn't actually disagree with what the previous comment said. It does seem similar enough to me to be relevant though so leaving it up.
Would you please quote (from the link you posted) where it says that Facebook banned said user?
There's not necessarily a perfect offline equivalent but it would sort of be like if the president tried to forbid a newspaper from running an editorial next to the text of a presidential speech- obviously unconstitutional. (not a perfect comparison because twitter users who are blocked can and do get around it by screenshotting or just linking to the tweet even though they can't reply to it)
I think the more interesting part of this is the ruling that the president's "personal" twitter account is an official government instrument.
I don't see what is questionable about it. Seems pretty straightforward, actually. He is an elected official who is held accountable by the public. He is widely known to make official policy statements using twitter. He can't just block citizens from reading his policy statements. That isn't how US democracy works.
> I think the more interesting part of this is the ruling that the president's "personal" twitter account is an official government instrument.
Well, considering how his "personal" twitter account is being used to make official policy statements... seems that it is no longer "personal" anymore, eh? He kinda brought that on himself, eh?
If all he was using Twitter for was posting pictures of his house-cats or something and not using it to conducting official government business, then you might have something to question.
if that was the crux of the issue, the ruling would be "stop making policy statements on twitter." The vast majority of US citizens don't use twitter and a sizable portion don't even have access to a twitter-capable device.
i don't think that sort of thing is within the purview of the court.
> The vast majority of US citizens don't use twitter and a sizable portion don't even have access to a twitter-capable device.
afaik there isn't a way to make statements in a manner that will reach all citizens.
I don't think Clinton and all the presidents before him had trouble making statements without the use of Twitter.
If you don't like that, consider taking that up with the Trump Administration. If his administration wants to use a medium that most people don't/won't/can't access, that kinda reflects on Trump. If you are down with that, cool. But the responsibility lies 100% with him.
This ruling says that if he insists on using twitter to make his policy statements, than he can't block people.
I dunno what more to say. Again. This seems like pretty straightforward stuff to me.
PS: I'm positive that somewhere down in the bowels of some federal government agency, somebody, somewhere, is trying to solve your concern. Probably by snapshotting his tweets and recording them in a more durable, accessable medium. (or god forbid printing them / saving them to PDF, etc). I also promise you tens of thousands of private citizens and journalists are doing the same thing.
But everyone knows that simply isn't going to happen. So the more sensible ruling is to say that Trump can't block anyone.
Didn't the administration state that Trump's tweets are official statements a while back? That might be a big reason why.
Edit: Yup, they did.
While I'm still concerned about the potential application of this case onto others, the ruling is far more reasonable imo.
* If you are a government official, and
* If you have an account on a social-media network, and
* If you use that account to make official statements in your official capacity as a government official, then
* You must follow the rules government officials are subject to with respect to channels for official communications in their official capacities.
Among those rules are: you have to let the general public see what you're saying, and give them the opportunity to reply and comment, and cannot prevent them from seeing, replying or commenting simply because you don't like their opinions.
This should be completely unsurprising, but apparently a lot of people on HN are surprised at this.
(another fun and as-yet-undecided-by-a-court question is whether it's legal for him to delete tweets, since there are also record-keeping laws which typically require official communications to be preserved, and apparently HN is surprised at that too, judging from some of the other subthreads here)
I'm not sure there's any law requiring him to include anyone's letter; it seems he'd have unlimited discretion on whose letters he wants to bundle. I don't see how 1st Amendment rights would ever require the president to let someone use that venue for speaking.
For example - just the most recent https://twitter.com/ronrobiins/status/999283009957318656 - presidential ain't what it used to be.
Does Trump use a lot of profanity? I've never really noticed. What I notice is that he makes fun of his opponents a lot, but I don't really see how that is considered rude, when his opponents are doing the same thing back to him.
also this is not the first president to whom people have said rude things. If the definition of "presidential" has changed it's not because of people calling Trump a "parasite".
He tweets many rude things, so I don't think they can cite any standard of behavior.
If not, the followers would not see the reply in that thread/ conversation.
Edit: Is this being downvoted because of some inferred snark? None was intended.
So private citizens now have to work around a block from President of the United States in order to read official communication? Is that the kind of country you want to live in?
You know for sure as shit that homeboy was blocking more then Rolex watch spammers and markov chain bots. He was blocking the accounts of journalists, dissenters, and other private citizens. That is a fucked up thing for somebody who is a public official. What kind of dangerous precedent does allowing that kind of behavior set?
The argument that anybody is prevented specifically from "reading" official communication is paper thin. The problem was that the government was effectively blocking private citizens' ability to reply and share under their preferred (potentially verified) identity.
The judge didn't call Twitter a “public square”, they called the space created by the @realDonaldTrump account a “public forum”; that's a critical difference.
And if the reaction to every single Trump tweet is “you’re scum I hope you die REEEEEE!”, does that person get a ban? Probably if the official’s anyone other than Trump, I’d guess. Seriously, you folks should look at the people banned, it’s a bunch of losers that would auto post some variant of “you’re an asshole” ten seconds after every Tweet, and they would rocket to the top of the reply list. In a sane world that would be considered harassment and not a valid reaction to a political statement, but whatever.
Sure, they could be blocked for that. The case lists seven individual people who were blocked because they "posted tweets
that criticized the President or his policies". It doesn't mean that every individual person the account has blocked was illegal.
The limitations on public officials engaging in viewpoint censorship in a public forum, including a privately owned one, are not new, nor is this the first case where they have been applied to social media accounts. The rules do apply to all government agencies and officials, already, and not just “on Twitter”.
If it's the former, then I would agree with you. If it's the latter, and you're not actually blocked from posting (saying) anything, then where exactly is the violation?
And I highly disagree with the "all or nothing" approach you've laid out. The biggest difference is that Trump is an elected official. Most people are not.
If they are making posts with Trump's account or are making posts on their own account while acting in an official capacity then yes they are almost guaranteed to be subject to this ruling.
Government and government officials have to play to a higher standard than a private citizen. Their actions and statements need to be public so they can be held accountable by the citizens who elected them. That is part of the bedrock that makes democracy work.
And if it isn't subjective, then what is the objective measure that you use to determine if something is "trolling" or not?
Essentially, designating a public forum means that the only restrictions are "time, place, and manner", and restrictions must be content-neutral. Furthermore, even the time/place/manner restrictions have to follow some level of reasonableness, with the exact level dependent on mildly arcane details, and I don't know the exact details here. The safest thing to do is say that he can't block trolls, because it's always easiest to default to assume that blocking speech is unconstitutional.
First Amendment rights are surprisingly far-ranging--it's unconstitutional for a city to deny neo-Nazis the right to march in a neighborhood of Holocaust survivors.
Blocking means other person can not see trump's tweets. I believe Trump can always mute other people.
Let us consider the following scenarios :
- Trump blocks only black people on Twitter.
- Hawaii's missile alert systems issues a real missile alert on their Twitter but Mr X does not get it because he was blocked by them.
- Mr. Joe goes to local DMV to get a driving manual. DMV clerk closes the window on his face and refused to give him the manual.
How is twitter scenario different here ?
So, in the President's case, if someone is retweeting him and criticizing his words, or calling him out by his Twitter handle in a way that he doesn't like, he can block them and literally prevent them from posting certain content about him.
This is mindbogglingly unethical.
If this is the case, what does this mean for twitter's algorithms in deciding what to show you first - a democrat you follow or a republic you follow that both talk about a topic you care about (for example cotton picking in Texas)... Would this by any chance have an effect on that?
By saying you can't block someone the judge is also saying you can't ignore someone who is harassing you.
Anyone who isn't logged in can still see it. They can just open an incognito window. They aren't really blocked from viewing his tweets.
It's unfortunate that the 2 are tied together into the same function. This would be a much simpler and less controversial issue then.
If you read what you are arguing here out loud to yourself, it is immediately obvious why this "workaround" is a scary-bad precedent to set.
In order to view official communications from an elected official (i.e. the president of the united states), some citizens must "just" open an incognito window in order to work around the fact that the President of the United States blocked them from viewing official communication!
Go ahead, say that out loud to yourself! It is what some folks are arguing is okay. What kind of dystopian nightmare slippery slope path to hell is that shit? How more people aren't terrified of the precent allowing such a thing to occur is beyond me.
Saying it is okay that citizens have to work around government instituted blocks in order to hear from their elected officials. That is complete bollocks. "Shithole countries" with "shithole governments" pull bullshit stunts like blocking citizens access to official communication. I'd like to think America aspires to be better than that.
Separating the 2 would solve this conflict.
At the same time though, if you think opening an incognito window is too much of a workaround for viewing public communications, what do you call just about every interaction with the government that is much more painful.
I wish every interaction with the government was as painless as opening an incognito window.
Especially the convoluted system we are required to use to file taxes. It's 1000x more convoluted and time consuming, and that is a requirement just to not be illegal.
They still can do that. This ruling does not say he can't mute people (prevent himself from seeing any of their posts). The ruling says that he can't block people (prevent the entire world from seeing their replies to his posts).
This is also probably moot since verified accounts reportedly have even better options for filtering out messages than normal users.
Verified accounts don't. We have an extra tab to view only notifications from other verified users, but that's it.
If you have a large volume of notifications (e.g. a tweet goes viral), they give you a modal to prompt you to set up filters, but AFAIK those filters aren't limited to verified users. A non-verified user would still get that modal, which is just pointing you towards features already in the Settings page.
Source: am verified on Twitter, and also have had tweets popular enough to trigger that modal.
> They can just open an incognito window. They aren't really blocked from viewing his tweets.
What if your local DMV tells a black citizen to go to some other DMV and get a driving manual ?
Secondly, if you are an ordinary person and I retweet your every tweet calling you a moron you might consider it harassment and block me but public officials do not have such luxury. It is a very fundamental feature of American democracy to call your president an idiot. He can't claim harassment there.
> What if your local DMV tells a black citizen to go to some other DMV and get a driving manual ?
Not sure the relevance to this discussion. What you are describing is racism, not denying access to problematic individuals.
I think the point here is there is no black and white answer, it falls on a spectrum. The "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" is fine if you are a small mom and pop shop but not as you get bigger. Especially if you provide critical infrastructure or government function. Not sure it can be codified in an absolute law though.
The government can't create a public forum and then control what views are expressed in that forum.
Trump could just mute you and no matter what you do he wont be bothered. When he blocks he is taking away your right to critise him on that platform using your own handle.
And if you log back in with the blocked account, and try to tweet @realDonaldTrump, it will prevent you from posting because he blocked you, preventing you from using his Twitter handle in any way.
You also cannot retweet him anymore, which is a common way of publicly condemning the things he says.
In the hands of the President, the block feature is a powerful censorship tool.
Not really. I mean, what did we do before Twitter came along?
When Trump uses his phone to talk to some people but doesn't take my call, is my voice taken away?
And what if Trump abandons twitter and decides to join chirper (I made that up, no relationship with anything that might have that name) which is just like twitter but invite only and has an open policy of banning liberals (which a private company is allowed to do), then what does this ruling mean? Does it mean that no government official can make use of any private company that has any level of discrimination against certain users (and by this I mean a legal discrimination, not based on protected class)? What about Trump joining a private club that doesn't let everyone be members?
There is no need for a tool to be owned by the government to be utilized by the government.
Twitter, as a private entity, has the option to wipe out a user's block list, or to save it now and restore it later, and in the wake of this ruling, would be publicly justified in doing so for the @realdonaldtrump user. They would only be helping that particular user to obey the rules of their office. But they can also ignore it completely, and leave it to Trump to clear his own block list. The court might request Twitter's assistance in checking on whether its ruling is being honored, and they might choose to cooperate, or not, in the absence of any legal compulsion to do so.
This isn't a Twitter thing. It's a government thing.
The same thing has happened to government officials or agencies who blocked local gadflies and protesters from their Facebook pages.
I don't see how anyone, president or otherwise, can't chose whom they send messages to.
If they are being used to conduct official business, most likely yes. They will need to comply with federal regulations for data retention, public disclosure (or confidentiality as the case may be), etc.
You may recall another candidate who was running for president in 2016 getting raked under the coals for using personal email to conduct federal business.
> I don't see how anyone, president or otherwise, can't chose whom they send messages to.
What's to not understand? They are acting in an official capacity. Thus they are legally and ethically bound to a higher standard.
I thought the other candidate was raked over the coals for jeopardizing national security?
In any case, I speak of Trump's "government" Twitter, "government" Gmail, "government" Slack, and "government" Facebook. (IDK how such a distinction is made, but I would like to compare apples to apples.)
Pretty sure he can't and if he is, he better be complying with federal records laws or else he'd be living a double standard. You may recall him blasting another, very popular candidate in the 2016 election for using personal email to conduct official business. Using slack / private email / twitter DM's is basically the same damn thing.
What if he blocks them on non-political grounds. Maybe they made fun of his mother, or dog, or threatened to throw dirty socks on his lawn, should be be able to block them then?
Are they really public in that case?
The President can share information with 1 person, 2 people, 3 people, or 336m people (the number of Twitter users). But he can't share information with 335m people?
That said, excluding certain people from official communications based on their opinions might be illegal too: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/us/politics/white-house-b...
But they are. Click logout if you’re one of the few professional Twitter trolls that actually managed to get his attention.
I.e. "people the President of the United States doesn't like". Even if those people have every right to have their voice be heard--as enshrined in the constitution. Saying "oh, they can just view his posts by going into incognito mode" is a pretty slippery slope to saying it is okay for the government to actively block certain undesirables from accessing government communication.
What kind of totalitarian government are you arguing for?