Knight Institute Asks White House to Unblock More Twitter Critics from @realDonaldTrump Account

August 10, 2018

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University today provided the Department of Justice with a list of 41 Twitter users who remain blocked from the @realDonaldTrump account, in connection with the Institute’s request that the Trump administration restore access to all users who were blocked from the president’s account on the basis of viewpoint. In a recent decision in a case brought by the Institute on behalf of seven individuals blocked from the @realDonaldTrump account, a district court ruled that the viewpoint-based blocking from the president’s Twitter account violates the First Amendment.

Following the ruling in Knight Institute v. Trump, the Trump administration restored the seven plaintiffs’ access to the @realDonaldTrump account, but continued to block other users, some of whom contacted the Knight Institute. The Justice Department accepted the Institute’s offer to provide information about blocked users, along with information the Institute collected about the tweets that apparently provoked the president to block them.

“As the district court has held, the First Amendment prohibits the president from blocking Twitter users simply because they’ve criticized him,” said Katie Fallow, senior staff attorney at the Knight Institute. “Given that ruling, the president and his aides should unblock all of the Twitter users who have been blocked from the @realDonaldTrump account on the basis of viewpoint.”

The Trump administration has appealed the district court’s decision, and it filed its opening brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Aug. 7.

The Knight Institute continues to collect information about users who remain blocked from the @realDonaldTrump account. If you remain blocked from the president’s account because you criticized the president or his policies, please contact the Institute at info@knightcolumbia.org.

Read the Institute’s letter to the DOJ here

About the Knight Institute

The Knight First Amendment Institute is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization established by Columbia University and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to defend the freedoms of speech and press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education. Its aim is to promote a system of free expression that is open and inclusive, that broadens and elevates public discourse, and that fosters creativity, accountability, and effective self-government.