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Free speech row: Donald Trump sued for blocking people on Twitter

Group claimed President's blocking of users on the social network is "unconstitutional"

IANS  |  Washington 

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

A group of users blocked by President have sued him, arguing that his account amounts to a public forum and as a government official, he cannot bar people from.

The blocked users, represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, filed suit against Trump, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Dan Scavino -- the Director of social media on Tuesday, CNN reported.

The group claimed that the President's blocking of users on the social network is "unconstitutional".

The suit argued that is a public forum and as the President's Twitter is used for official government announcements, the tweets should be accessible to everyone. The suit asked Trump to unblock the users.

"Twitter enables ordinary citizens to speak directly to public officials and to listen to and debate about public issues, in the same way they could if they were gathered on a sidewalk or at a city council meeting," the said.

By blocking people from reading his tweets, or from viewing and replying to message chains based on them, Trump was violating their First Amendment rights because they expressed views he did not like, the stated.

Twitter did not comment on the and the could not be reached for comment.

In a decision last month, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said that "cyberspace," specifically the social media, is the most important platform for exchanging views, citing Twitter as a place for petitioning elected officials.

The lawsuit against Trump and his aides, filed in the Southern District of New York, followed a letter sent by the Knight First Amendment Institute to the White House in June, asking the President to unblock people. But the White House did not do so, the CNN report said.

The letter sparked debate over the constitutionality of elected officials blocking constituents.

Some people argued that the account, @realDonaldTrump, was personal and therefore blocking people did not violate the Constitution.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, July 12 2017. 15:02 IST