Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Apologizes And Unblocks Critic Who Sued Her

from the a-step-in-the-right-direction dept

Right after Donald Trump lost the case against him for blocking people on Twitter, we noted that Dov Hikind, a critic of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez launched a similar lawsuit against her for blocking him. Again -- because it's important to repeat -- the court rulings in the Trump case made it clear that politicians who used Twitter for part of their job representing the public could not block people, as that's a violation of the 1st Amendment. The specific criteria laid out by the courts were that (1) if you're a public official, and (2) using social media (3) for official purposes (4) to create a space of open dialogue, then you cannot block people from following you based on the views they express.

It appeared that the @AOC account met all of the criteria, and therefore should not be able to block critics for expressing their dislike of her stances or policies. Ocasio-Cortez, on her part, stood by her right to block people by claiming that she only blocked 20 people, none were constituents, and that they were only blocked for harassment which, she argued, was "not a viewpoint" (i.e., this wasn't viewpoint discrimination). Either way, just as the Hikind case was about to go to trial, Ocasio-Cortez has settled the case, admitted she was wrong to block Hikind and apologized:

“Mr. Hikind has a First Amendment right to express his views and should not be blocked for them,” the Queens-Bronx congresswoman said. “In retrospect, it was wrong and improper and does not reflect the values I cherish. I sincerely apologize for blocking Mr. Hikind.”

The Knight 1st Amendment Institute, which had brought the lawsuit against Trump and had sent Ocasio-Cortez a letter arguing that she was incorrect to block people with her account, announced that they were happy with this result. According to their Senior Staff Attorney, Katie Fallow:

“We applaud Rep. Ocasio-Cortez for recognizing that she was wrong to block critics from her Twitter account. As the courts have affirmed, when public officials use their social media accounts to carry out official duties, they create a public forum and can’t prevent people from participating simply because they don’t like what they’re saying. We hope that other public officials who are blocking critics from their social media accounts take Ocasio-Cortez’s lead.”

That said, while this case was settled and Ocasio-Cortez admitted to being wrong, she still seems to be standing by the idea that she can block some users:

“I reserve the right to block users who engage in actual harassment or exploit my personal/campaign account, @AOC, for commercial or other improper purposes,” she said.

There might be cases where it would not be a 1st Amendment violation to block users, but the details would matter quite a bit -- and the argument that harassment, by itself, would constitute a reason for blocking seems iffy, at best. Same with "exploit[ing]" her account "for commercial or other improper purposes." It will be interesting to see if other such cases are brought, or if the @AOC account choose to block others in the future.

Filed Under: 1st amendment, alexandria ocasio-cortez, aoc, blocking, dov hikind, free speech, public spaces, social media
Companies: twitter


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2019 @ 5:13pm

    Given that she was the one who needed this type of free speech when she was the outsider, it's now consistent with that that she's letting the public debate. It's basically a town hall when politicians use twitter. If they block people, that can cut off a vital part of the discussion.

    This also applies to websites who sponsors are related to the discussions, or reviewed. "We ban all negative reviews" shows the problem. If they have a right to do so, customers have a right to believe that censorship makes whatever they read something they cannot trust.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2019 @ 5:24pm

    all americans are congressional constituents

    this was not like a mayor or governor blocking someone from out of state

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2019 @ 8:45pm

    So this is okay to force a platform to host speech it doesn't want to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2019 @ 9:24pm

      Re:

      Twitter could still block them. AOC isn't the platform.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 6 Nov 2019 @ 10:35pm

      Re:

      [Asserts facts not in evidence]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Nov 2019 @ 11:22pm

      Re:

      So this is okay to force a platform to host speech it doesn't want to.

      That's not what this is at all. This is about a politician, a public official, creating a limited purpose open forum. As such, the 1st Amendment bars them from engaging in any viewpoint discrimination. As the courts have found, that means that politicians cannot block people from their own open forums (designated as the space beneath their social media posts).

      It has literally nothing to do with private platforms being forced to host speech.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 12:08am

        Re: Re:

        Is twitter for members only?

        If it is a private club, like Facebook, she should be able to block whoever she wants.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 7:53am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If it is a private club, like Facebook, she should be able to block whoever she wants.

          You're free to have an opinion about what she should be able to do, but the law says she can't (while operating the account in her capacity as a public official).

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 5:28pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Than TRUMP should be able to Block anyone he wants!!! He can't thanks too the Leftists that forced that point in court, and so it holds true for AOC and everyone else also!!! Can't have it both ways. Looks like their TRUMP hate backfired. If Trump has to put up with all the leftist TDS hate, then so does AOC which is a fraction of what Trump is getting. Quite frankly, I find it pretty funny.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 8:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I don’t know what’s sadder about you Trumpers. That you’re ignorant fuckwits. Or that your so very proud of being ignorant fuckwits.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 1:21am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: suns gonna clear up the rain

              Don’t worry blue or whoever when you like start liking trump again when another subject about the internet comes up in a few days here you will feel a whole lot better lol

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            bhull242 (profile), 10 Nov 2019 @ 11:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Uhhh, what? How is this backfiring? In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve been saying that Democrats like AOC shouldn’t be able to block people like that even before the ruling on Trump came out. We’ve always been saying that no politician shouldn’t be able to block people under these circumstances.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 10 Nov 2019 @ 11:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, Twitter is able to block anyone that it wants, as can any private individual using the service. A government employee commenting on government matters on Twitter is a completely different story.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 12:29am

        Re: Re:

        What scares you about my speech that you are trying to block me from posting?

        Facebook is a publicly owned, private, members only club.
        It is open to the public the exact same way a private golf course is open to the public.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 1:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "What scares you about my speech that you are trying to block me from posting?"

          He says, having posted twice.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 4:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The real kicker of course is that if they're getting caught in the spam filter and that's delaying the posting(which assumes that there even is a delay and they're not just lying yet again) the very people they are accusing of trying to 'block' them are the ones clearing their comments and allowing them to be posted.

            The very fact that their posts are making it through disproves their assertions, which is just a delightful own-goal, but I suppose they've been showing how dishonest and/or foolish they are for years at this point so why stop now?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 3:03pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I am not lying.

              I am unique.

              So unique, they have to invent a new gender just for me.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 3:36pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Well, at least it's a third transphobic joke, so I'll give you credit for that.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 12:48am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You're just jealous

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 2:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You're just jealous.

                  People are still pirating, does that mean they aren't trying to stop them?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 3:04am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    What does any of this conversation have to do with piracy?

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                      identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 11:25am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      I wouldn't expect you to understand.

                      Is it possible, in your world, to try something and to be unsuccessful? Or, if unsuccessful, does that mean you didn't even try?

                      Is it a logical conclusion that if I can bypass the blocks that no one is trying to block me? Is that how your logic works?

                      I miss the Logician, John Fenderson and all the other intelligent non-hypocritical posters that used to post here.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 2:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            People on a tech site never heard of VPN?

            Don't understand public and private even when thinking about a router?

            Think Facebook is an ISP?

            Mike, you going to man up and tell them you are trying to block me?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 2:58pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Keep crying like a bitch. Your tears are delicious.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 5:25am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Facebook is a publicly owned, private, members only club.
          It is open to the public the exact same way a private golf course is open to the public."

          I'm not entirely sure exactly what it is you are attempting to communicate here, perhaps if you were to elucidate your concern(s) and make your point(s) in a clear and concise manner.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 5:55am

          It ain't private if you can waltz right on in without an invitation. And you can do that on Facebook. Get a better argument, Blue.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 7:51am

            Re:

            It ain't private if you can waltz right on in without an invitation. And you can do that on Facebook.

            What? Large parts of Facebook are only available to members, and membership requires adherance to a large set of rules, but this case was about Twitter.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 9:28am

              Re: Re:

              So does Twitter, but that doesn't make it a private service. If you have two services - Yellow and Purple, let's say - and both let you generally see some of what's on the service, but Yellow lets you sign up with little issue and Purple requires an invitation from someone on the service or approval from the owner, why would you ever think Yellow is private?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 2:27pm

                Re: Re: Re:

                What is the difference between a public golf course and a private golf course genius?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 3:37pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Both can require fees for entry. Only one lets any Joe Schmoe on the street walk in and pay those fees.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 3:07am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "What is the difference between a public golf course and a private golf course genius?"

                  Depends on whether the first one is owned by the government or not. If so, the difference is that the first one is public property and the second private property. If the course itself is owned by private individuals in both cases, then the difference is that the owners have placed different criteria on who they allow on their property, as is their right.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          wereisjessicahyde (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 7:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Apart from Facebook not being publicly owned, private, members only or a club good effort.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 2:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Too bad no Lawyers frequent the site.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 10:39am

          Re: Re: Re:

          “What scares you about my speech”

          How bloody ignorant of the most fundamental parts of your own government you are.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 12:46pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Facebook is a publicly owned, private, members only club.

          Since when did the government own Facebook?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 2:31pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Publicly owned is not public property.

            Is facebook your ISP?

            Don't let Stephen confuse you.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 3:04pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Bro the only one confused is you. Let me lay it out for ya real clear like. The 1st Amendment only applies to Governmental Actors. It doesn’t matter one iota if Facebook is a publicly traded company or a private members only club.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 3:44pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Even if it is publicly traded, it's still privately owned because the government doesn't own it.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 3:39pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Publicly owned is not public property."

              That's exactly what it means.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 3:10am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I think he's getting confused between publicly owned and publicly traded.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 3:16pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  No. You free speech advocates don't know the difference between publicly owned, which is owned by individuals and public property, which is owned by the public.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    bhull242 (profile), 13 Nov 2019 @ 11:52am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    “Public property” is defined as property that is publicly owned. There is a difference, though, as property is not the only thing that can be publicly owned (e.g. a company or organization).

                    “Publicly owned” emphatically does not mean “owned by individuals”. In fact, that is the opposite of what it means: “Publicly owned” literally means “owned by the public”. I have no idea where you got that idea from. “Privately owned” means “owned by [private] individuals or non-government entities”.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              bhull242 (profile), 10 Nov 2019 @ 11:21am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Publicly owned is not public property.

              By definition, publicly owned is public property.

              If it is property—tangible or not—owned by anyone at all and it is not owned by the government, then it is private property. Any other property is public property and is owned by the government if it is capable of being owned.

              And just to head off this argument, “owned by a publicly traded company” is not the same as “publicly owned”.

              Is facebook your ISP?

              If by ISP you mean a service that provides internet connections, then no, Facebook is not my ISP. Not that that’s even remotely relevant to this discussion.

              In the context of, say, §230, Facebook is an ISP in that it provides a service over the internet that collects and displays user-generated content. It isn’t my ISP as I don’t own it. Though, again, I’m not sure how that’s relevant.

              Don't let Stephen confuse you.

              Notwithstanding the fact that he’s been completely right on this subject, Stephen had nothing to do with anything I said. I learned it from Social Studies, the dictionary, and independent research into the relevant laws and concepts. I believe the only one confused here is you.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 2:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Scare is the wrong word, as you are annoying everybody by claiming that you can force them to listen

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 1:37am

      Re:

      "So this is okay to force a platform to host speech it doesn't want to."

      Nobody's forcing the platform to host anything. This is a dispute between a politician and a private citizen, the owner of the property on which they had the dispute is irrelevant, as it should be.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 5:33pm

        Re: Re:

        Well, Trump was forced to put up with all the leftist HATE on twitter and not ban anyone. There is ZERO difference for AOC or anyone else then. It's a private platform, I get it, but if it's going to be used by politicians, then I guess it either has to ALL be allowed, or all be BANNED. That means if you ban TRUMP, you ban every single other Politician on that platform including AOC. Then you don't have to worry about that court ruling.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 6:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "if you ban TRUMP, you ban every single other Politician on that platform"

          I'm down for that. Anyone else down for that?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 3:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yes, but the decision should come from the government and not Twitter. If a vote is passed through saying "only the following forms of communication are acceptable for official government business", and that list does not include Twitter, there will be complaining but at least everyone's on the same level. If the decision comes from Twitter, you can bet there will be a lot of complaining, followed swiftly by Trump's army of morons gathering around a different social network as their outlet, and we're back to square one.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 8:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That was kinda the original point that Mike made, you ignorant fuckwit.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 3:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Well, Trump was forced to put up with all the leftist HATE on twitter and not ban anyone."

          Because he uses his account to host official government communications. However, Twitter were not forced to do anything at all.

          "There is ZERO difference for AOC or anyone else then"

          Yes, which is what the above decision confirms.

          Yet again, you seem to have a major problem addressing what the article and comments actually say, rather than the version you wish existed.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bruce C., 7 Nov 2019 @ 1:39am

    Muting vs. Blocking...

    I also wonder about the distinction between blocking (i.e., removed from followers and/or unable to tag @aoc in tweets) and muting (he can post whatever he wants, but AOC filters them out of her feed). First amendment grants free speech but doesn't require people to actually listen. Otherwise protests at the capitol would be handled quite differently from the way they are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 3:55am

      'No one can hear you on my page' vs 'Only I can't hear you.'

      As I remember that distinction came up during the lawsuit regarding Trump over blocking people on social media, with the note that while blocking isn't allowed due to him being a member of the government muting would be.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 4:56am

        Re: 'No one can hear you on my page' vs 'Only I can't hear you.'

        "blocking isn't allowed due to him being a member of the government"

        It's always worth clarifying - the issue with Trump was not that he was a member of government. The problem was that he started using his personal Twitter account as a means to announce policy and communicate government business. Blocking people there then means that they are unable to read official public government communications, and they are unable to air grievances in return.

        If he had kept to the official @POTUS for government business and carried out his childish tweet rants on his own account, there may not have been a problem. But, once the White House confirmed that the personal account was considered an official channel, it has to be treated the same as any other - which means no blocking people because you disagree with them politically.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 7:18am

          Re: Re: 'No one can hear you on my page' vs 'Only I can't hear y

          If he had kept to the official @POTUS for government business and carried out his childish tweet rants on his own account, there may not have been a problem.

          Maybe, if he'd kept his childish tweet rants to topics like Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. But a significant number of those rants concern the presidency, Congress, and other governmental affairs, so I think the court would have determined that the account is used for official government business even if the White House hadn't said as much.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 3:15am

            Re: Re: Re: 'No one can hear you on my page' vs 'Only I can't he

            Possibly, but I think there's a fine line. He could rant all he wants about whether he just watched on Fox News or saw in a public hearing without causing issues. It's classless and paints the whole country in a bad light, but him expressing such things are not necessarily any different from you or I doing so (albeit with greater potential consequences)

            It's when he starts revealing potentially sensitive information or discussing actual policy decisions that it becomes problematic. That's where it crosses from "this guy, who happens to be the president, has this opinion stated here" and "the president is communicating official government business with this channel". May your next president again be someone where the difference is clear.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Thad (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 9:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 'No one can hear you on my page' vs 'Only I can'

              Possibly, but I think there's a fine line. He could rant all he wants about whether he just watched on Fox News or saw in a public hearing without causing issues.

              Maybe, but I don't think so. Your read is a valid read of the court opinions, given that they spend a lot of time looking at things like Trump's use of Twitter for official functions such as hirings and firings and statements to foreign leaders, White House staff's use of the Twitter account, and plain statements that Trump's statements on his personal account are official presidential statements. All that stuff is certainly important. But I think even the lower threshold of simply discussing government business would still be enough to classify his account as a limited public forum. From the opinion (pages 4-7):

              President Trump established his account, with the handle @realDonaldTrump, (the “Account”) in March 2009. No one disputes that before he became President the Account was a purely private one or that once he leaves office the Account will presumably revert to its private status. This litigation concerns what the Account is now. Since his inauguration in January 2017, he has used the Account, according to the parties, “as a channel for communicating and interacting with the public about his administration.” App’x at 54. The President’s tweets from the Account can be viewed by any member of the public without being signed into a Twitter account. However, if a user has been blocked from the Account, they cannot view the Account’s tweets when logged in to their account. At the time of the parties’ stipulation, the Account had more than 50 million followers. The President’s tweets produce an extraordinarily high level of public engagement, typically generating thousands of replies, some of which, in turn, generate hundreds of thousands of additional replies. The President has not generally sought to limit who can follow the Account, nor has he sought to limit the kind of speech that users can post in reply to his tweets.

              The public presentation of the Account and the webpage associated with it bear all the trappings of an official, state run account. The page is registered to Donald J. Trump “45th President of the United States of America, Washington 14 D.C.” Id. at 54-55. The header photographs of the Account show the President engaged in the performance of his official duties such as signing executive orders, delivering remarks at the White House, and meeting with the Pope, heads of state, and other foreign dignitaries.

              Following that, the court does go into several paragraphs of detail regarding White House staff and the National Archives stating outright that Trump conducts official government business on his Twitter account. That certainly helps Knight's case, but it's not necessary to it; Trump discussing government business on the Twitter account in and of itself would have been enough to qualify it as a limited public forum.

              Here's more, from later in the opinion (page 18, following further discussion of the points you mention about the government repeatedly acknowledging the account as official):

              Second, since becoming President he has used the Account on almost a daily basis “as a channel for communicating and interacting with the public about his administration.” Id. at 54. The President utilizes White House staff to post tweets and to maintain the Account. He uses the Account to announce “matters related to official government business,” including high-level White House and cabinet level staff changes as well as changes to major national policies. Id. at 56. He uses the Account to engage with foreign leaders and to announce foreign policy decisions and initiatives. Finally, he uses the “like,” “retweet,” “reply,” and other functions of the Account to understand and to evaluate the public’s reaction to what he says and does. In sum, since he took office, the President has consistently used the Account as an important tool of governance and executive outreach. For these reasons, we conclude that the factors pointing to the public, non-private nature of the Account and its interactive features are overwhelming.

              There's more in the lower court ruling. Pages 53-55 (note that page 54 is cited in the above quotes of the appellate opinion):

              In assessing whether speech constitutes government speech as opposed to private speech, the Supreme Court has considered at least three factors: whether government has historically used the speech in question “to convey state messages,” whether that speech is “often closely identified in the public mind” with the government, and the extent to which government “maintain[s] direct control over the messages conveyed,” with Walker’s application of these factors “likely mark[ing] the outer bounds of the government-speech doctrine.” Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744, 1760 (2017) (quoting Walker, 135 S. Ct. at 2246-49); see also Wandering Dago, 879 F.3d at 34 (distilling the same three factors from Walker).

              Based on the government speech doctrine, we reject out of hand any contention that the content of the President’s tweets are susceptible to forum analysis. It is not so susceptible because the content is government speech: the record establishes that the President, sometimes “[w]ith the assistance of Mr. Scavino,” uses the content of his tweets “to announce, describe, and defend his policies; to promote his Administration’s legislative agenda; to announce official decisions; to engage with foreign political leaders; to publicize state visits; to challenge media organizations whose coverage of his Administration he believes to be unfair; and for other statements, including on occasion statements unrelated to official government business.” Stip. ¶ 38. Indeed, the content of the tweets sent by @realDonaldTrump are solely the speech of the President or of other government officials. Stip. ¶ 39. For the same reason, the account’s timeline, which “displays all tweets generated by the [account]” is not susceptible to forum analysis: the timeline merely aggregates the content of all of the account’s tweets, Stip. ¶ 15, all of which is government speech.

              Note that other officials' use of the account, his use of the account to engage with foreign leaders, and his official announcements on the account are only some of the factors used to determine that @realDonaldTrump is a public forum, and that other factors include defending his policies, promoting his legislative agenda, and criticizing his coverage by the press.

              So I don't agree with your conclusion that he would have been fine if he'd stuck to ranting about what he just saw on Fox News or in a public hearing. If he were ranting about, for example, the Mueller Investigation, the wall, his tax and healthcare policy -- all of those things are directly related to his position as President of the United States. Do you really think that if he'd posted about those topics but the White House had denied that these were official statements, the courts would have ruled differently?

              If he had a Twitter account where all he posted was cat videos, then sure, he could block whoever he wants. But he's talking about government business in his capacity as an elected official.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 9 Nov 2019 @ 2:42am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 'No one can hear you on my page' vs 'Only I

                That's all true, I just think it was untested and it wasn't really controversial until he started announcing government business on there. It's a weird issue because most previous presidents were statesmen enough to keep their private opinion out of things, but with the toddler in chief we do have to deal with things differently it seems.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 5:28am

      Re: Muting vs. Blocking...

      "First amendment grants free speech but doesn't require people to actually listen."

      Or - more correctly,
      1st amendment blocks the government from interfering with free speech, (it grants nothing).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        btr1701 (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 2:53pm

        Re: Re: Muting vs. Blocking...

        It is amazing, isn't it, how many people think rights are granted by the government.

        If it's granted by the government, it's not a right. It's a privilege and a privilege can be revoked just as easily as it was granted.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 8:16am

    The real story here is that she APOLOGIZED

    One of the key traits of a good leader is being able to admit when they are wrong. Why is that so hard for our leaders to do today?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 10:52am

      Re: The real story here is that she APOLOGIZED

      Because most of them are narcissistic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 5:36pm

      Re: The real story here is that she APOLOGIZED

      She was forced to admit she was wrong, while at the same time saying it's still OK to ban other users she doesn't like!!! She is talking out of both sides of her mouth. She is NO leader. She is dumb as a rock. She shouldn't have been banning anyone after TRUMP was forced to stop banning people. That was because these leftists forced it in court and won. Then after winning, doing it themselves. I find that disgusting and hypercritical of AOC.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 6:05pm

        Re: Re: The real story here is that she APOLOGIZED

        It's not hypocritical. She can legally block any user on Twitter that isn’t one of her constituents. Trump can’t legally block any American citizen until after he's out of office because, as the president, he serves all Americans.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          btr1701 (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 3:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: The real story here is that she APOLOGIZED

          She can legally block any user on Twitter that isn’t one of her constituents.

          Baloney. There's nothing in the 1st Amendment that limits a person's right to redress the government for their grievances to only the member of Congress that represents them.

          Every member of Congress votes on and passes legislation that affects every citizen in the country. Therefore every citizen has a 1st Amendment right to address them with their concerns.

          If the government of Texas banned anyone but Texas residents from protesting an abortion law (or a gun law or a climate change law or whatever), and arrested anyone from out of state who showed up to a protest, that would be wildly unconstitutional, yet that's exactly what you're arguing for here.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 8:39pm

        Re: Re: The real story here is that she APOLOGIZED like an adult

        She was an adult and apologised for being wrong. Unlike your boi who acts like a three year old throwing a temper tantrum.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 9:39pm

          Re: Re: Re: The real story here is that she APOLOGIZED like an a

          Objection. Three year olds may throw tantrums but they are capable of saying sorry and actually showing remorse.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 8:43am

    Trump vs AOC

    So she apologized and unblocked the people. Did Trump? Following his case I can more easily imagine him just unblocking the people but never saying sorry and unblocking. This is probably because the pact he made with the devil has a clause that says if he ever admits he's wrong he'll be dragged to hell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 9:03am

    Mike is still upset that AOC was mean to one of his bosses, I assume?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 9:32am

    Commercial speech

    Imagine what would happen if someone were to stand up in the middle of a town meeting -- or the gallery overlooking the Senate -- and start shouting an advertisement for genital enlargement.

    They would be escorted out and not allowed back in so long as they insisted on shouting their ads. AOC absolutely could do the same with her social media accounts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 10:07am

      Re: Commercial speech

      That wouldn't be completely analogous either, as you don't hit "block" on a scurillious spammy post in your feed, you hit "report as spam" instead as simply blocking a spammer leaves the service bereft of the fact there's a spammer on the loose in your feed, meaning they can't adjust their anti-spam algorithms to catch that spam next time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 10:57am

        Re: Re: Commercial speech

        They literally don’t block nazis until it becomes a pr nightmare. This is even with proof of abusive language, threats and more. So this isn’t a mistake that people resort to blocking like AOC who gets a ton of vitriol. Mike Masnick is a standard first amendment troll honestly.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 11:39am

          Re: Re: Re: Commercial speech

          god

          I can't tell if you believe the crap you're spewing.

          Real Nazi's and the first amendment can't exist in the same regime. You can either have the right to religion and assembly or you can have illegal Jews and illegal synagogues. You can't have both.

          You are apparently some kind of fascist troll for equating human rights for repugnant groups with endorsing repugnant groups.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 5:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Commercial speech

            You can have NAZI's and they are protected by the first amendment just like everyone else is. They can SAY all the nasty stuff they want. They just can't act on the things they may be saying.. It's against the law for anyone to put people in a gas chamber and kill them as an Example. Just like the KKK can say whatever they want. They just can't hang Black people, or any other type of action against anyone as that would be breaking the law. But they have every right to say what they want and are protected under the 1st amendment.

            There are no HATE Speech laws here. Thank goodness for that. These dumb laws are used to throw people into jail in other countries for dumb things. Maybe you're not worried NOW, but some new party gets in office and puts out their own things that ar Hate Speech to them, and now your butt is in jail!!! Ops!!!!!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 11:23pm

          Re: Re: Re: Commercial speech is still protected speech bro

          Please honestly define “standard first amendment troll” for us plebs. Unless it means “keeps saying things that you don’t like” which we ALL know is what it really means.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Christopher (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 11:02am

    Lawyers stink.

    "...and the argument that harassment, by itself, would constitute a reason for blocking seems iffy, at best." Harassment is, from what I recall, criminal activity. I'm finding this "iffy" BS in direct conflict with that, and confused about how the 1st Amendment protects harassing behavior. -C

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Darkness Of Course (profile), 7 Nov 2019 @ 11:06am

    Never!

    Never block, always mute.

    Muting is an American right, established by the very intellectuals that support the ??AA teams. Because TV remotes have mute button, Q.E.D.

    Sadly, not Quid Pro Quo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 3:39pm

    Are you free speech advocates only intolerant of nazis?

    You've proven my point about the paradox of tolerance BS.

    Keep hiding speech, proving it more. You are as bad as nazis. Worse, because you pretend to be even better than them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 10 Nov 2019 @ 3:28am

      Re:

      "Are you free speech advocates only intolerant of nazis?"

      Nope, they're just the most obvious example of indefensible naked hatred. The fact that you apparently think that having your idiotic opinions hidden is worse than the slaughter of millions of innocent people is just an example of wilful stupidity, and thinking people tend to be pretty intolerant of that as well.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 10 Nov 2019 @ 8:54am

      Re:

      [Asserts facts mot in evidence]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 10 Nov 2019 @ 11:03am

      Re:

      Strange. I seem to recall the Nazis did a lot more than making some speech hidden from immediate view but being easy to find if you have even the slightest desire to see what was hidden. For one thing, I’m pretty sure that they killed or imprisoned dissidents; I don’t recall that ever happening here.

      So even if you’re right about us being hypocritical about free speech, I’m not sure how you could think that we’re remotely close to the Nazis by any measure.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.