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Blocked Twitter users sue President Trump

Trump defends social media use
President Trump defends social media use after CNN tweet 02:34

A group of Twitter users blocked by President Trump are suing him and two White House aides, arguing that the president's Twitter account serves as a public forum, which would make it illegal for Mr. Trump, as a government official, to prevent individuals from reading it.

"President Trump's Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, has become an important source of news and information about the government, and an important public forum for speech," the suit reads.  

The blocked users describe Mr. Trump's frequent use of Twitter feed as "a kind of digital town hall in which the president and his aides use the tweet function to communicate news and information to the public."

The users filing the suit argue that being blocked on Twitter is the digital equivalent to being barred from a public forum, and therefore Mr. Trump blocking these users from viewing and replying to his tweets because the users expressed views he did not like is an violation of the First Amendment. They also claim that being blocked from the president's Twitter account impedes their ability to access government statements.

"Because of the way the President and his aides use the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account, the account is a public forum under the First Amendment," the lawsuit states. "Defendants have made the account accessible to all, taking advantage of Twitter's interactive platform to directly engage the President's 33 million followers."

The lawsuit is filed in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, and also lists White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as well as director of social media Dan Scavino as defendants.

The plaintiffs are seeking declaration that the blocking was unconstitutional in addition to an injunction requiring the president to unblock the users from Twitter. Additionally, they hope to prohibit the president from blocking other users.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University is representing the users, and is also listed itself as a plaintiff, although its Twitter account is not blocked by Mr. Trump's Twitter account.

The president has described his use of Twitter as a "modern day presidential" mode of communication, according to a tweet from earlier this month.

Some argue, however, that the @realDonaldTrump account is Mr. Trump's personal account and therefore should not be held to the same legal standards as the president's official @POTUS account.   

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