Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Judge to Trump: Try muting, not blocking followers

ASSOCIATED PRESS           Vice President Mike Pence right listens as President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House ASSOCIATED PRESS Vice President Mike Pence right listens as President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House
Ebony Burgess | 09 March, 2018, 10:20

"Once it's a public forum, you can't shut somebody up because you don't like what they're saying", she said. "Why is that possibly OK?" If he "mutes" someone, they can still receive his tweets, but he doesn't see any response or reply they offer. This has barred these users from interacting with the President's @realdonaldtrump account.

They contend that the president's Twitter account is a public forum and that, by virtue of his status as a government official, he can not block them on the platform because they offer views with which he disagrees. "He wants to look out at the world on Twitter and see that everyone agrees with him and everybody thinks he's great and the fact is that's not true and that's why he blocks - just literally blocks - us so we won't be seen to be expressing our views against him, and I think that's outrageous". The Trump administration asked for the suit to be dismissed, spurring Thursday's hearing in Manhattan federal court.

"We have made our arguments that this is an official account the president uses in an official capacity and that him blocking people simply because they criticize him is viewpoint discrimination that violates the First Amendment", Fallow said.

"It becomes an echo chamber for only supporters to be heard, which creates a false impression of public opinion", Fallow told BuzzFeed News.

On the other side, the government said Trump's @realDonaldTrump account is personal in nature and he is not required to welcome everyone's voice.

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In the question of whether Trump can legally block people from seeing and commenting on his account, a judge now has a possible solution. The President would be able to say "no thank you" to a protester, for example, or decide to tune someone out in a conversation, he said. In addition, blocking Twitter users theoretically prevents them from being able to access official government communications. At one point, Baer offered his own analogy, saying that the president can choose to ignore protesters or even change locations at an event to make it more hard for the protester to reach him.

"The president has an associational interest in deciding who he's going to spend his time with in that setting", Michael Baer argued for the Justice Department, adding that Mr. Trump's Twitter activity is personal as opposed to a "state action", Reuters reported.

Baer also argued that the court can not order the president to unblock users, because of his position as head of another branch of government.

Buchwald did not tip her hand on where she stands, but warned both sides they could lose the case. "He can avoid hearing them by muting them".

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