“High Court Ponders If Officials May Silence Critics on Social Media
In an unprecedented move by the United States Supreme Court, it is being asked to decide whether elected officials can legally block their critics on social media. The court was presented with a case brought by seven individuals who were blocked from the Twitter account of the current President of the United States Donald Trump. The plaintiffs contend that their First Amendment rights were violated when they were blocked by Trump because they disagreed with his views. The issue at hand is the use of the President’s Twitter account, which is run by the White House and can be considered a public forum. The court is being asked to determine whether the blocking of the individuals restricts their ability to freely express their views in the public forum, and whether such actions are a form of censorship by preventing opposing views from being heard. If the Supreme Court does decide that officials may block their critics on social media, it could give them more power to censor or prevent opinions which oppose their own from entering the public discourse. Critics of the case argue that elected officials should not be allowed to use their power to selectively promote their views and silence dissenting voices on social media. The Supreme Court justices appeared to be divided on this issue when arguments were heard. As the highest court in the land, they must now decide whether the blocking of Twitter users by elected officials constitutes a violation of their First Amendment rights. This ruling could, in turn, have an important impact on the freedom of speech online as well as the integrity of social media as a public forum.