Dear media, being blocked on Twitter is not a First Amendment crisis
angry twitter bird

Hey, media! Blocked by Trump? Follow him here …

Posted July 17, 2017 04:01 PM by Rob Eno angry twitter bird
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Over the past month or so, there has been a crescendo of people complaining that Donald Trump has “blocked” them on Twitter. Of course, being “blocked” does not mean you cannot see that person’s tweets. You just need to log out of the site or use a different browser. You can also see embedded tweets on other websites. As always, I’m here to help.

Oh wait, that’s not these people’s problem …

A lawsuit was filed last week by the Knight First Amendment Institution, arguing that Trump’s Twitter feed is a public forum. Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza is a commentator in a “social justice” magazine, an employee of the Center for American Progress — yes, the one John Podesta started — and a party to the suit. She wrote an op-ed at Forbes explaining how being blocked has “hurt her” professionally.

Gone now is my ability to participate in the timeliest and most robust conversations around law, policy, and politics on Twitter—those around the president’s tweets. Taking part in these exchanges was an ideal way to stay current on not just facts, but new ideas. These threads make up the marketplace of ideas in which my peers and potential employers, colleagues, and audience are present and participating. I’ve been forced out and have no meaningful way to rejoin them.

First off, let me be helpful. Rebecca, you can bookmark this page and see Trump’s tweets as they happen:

Next, let’s talk about your “right” to engage with Trump or about Trump on Twitter. Even if being blocked by @realDonaldTrump precludes your “ability to participate in the timeliest and most robust conversations,” sorry, but that isn’t what the First Amendment protects. You still have speech. Your speech hasn’t been abridged. Nowhere does it state in the First Amendment that you have a right to have the president of the United States or anybody else amplify your speech — or even a right to engage with him directly.

As shown above, you can see the tweets, even when “blocked.” But what you want is for the president to amplify your criticisms of him, or for other Twitter users to amplify those criticisms when you participate in “robust” conversations around his tweets. Where in the world is there a court case in all of this? If the president were walking down the street in a public place, you might have the “right” to view him with your own eyes, but that still wouldn’t give you a “right” to converse with him if he declined.

As far as being able to engage in the conversations, you can screen-grab a tweet and post a picture. That’s pretty easy. Or you can even go to Archive.is and share a page to start or join a conversation. Also, you’ll obviously still be able to see what everybody else is saying about the tweets — assuming they haven’t blocked you as well.

If you need help on how to screen-grab tweets, here is a Windows tutorial and one for Mac. If you use Linux, sorry, you’re on your own.

The main point? You don’t have a right to have others amplify your speech. You have a right to not have your speech suppressed. Being blocked by Donald Trump on Twitter doesn’t even come close to being a suppression of speech. No matter what your self-absorption makes you think.


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Robert Eno is the director of research for Conservative Review. He is a conservative from deep blue Massachusetts but now lives in Greenville, SC. If you see something you’d like him to cover, tweet him @robeno.