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Trump’s big blow: Federal appeals court rules in favour of Twitter critics

Trump’s big blow: Federal appeals court rules in favour of Twitter critics

A federal appeals court has ruled that US President Donald Trump cannot legally block users on Twitter based on their political differences with him. This affirms a lower court decision.

The three-judge panel agreed with last year’s ruling by a federal judge that Trump was using “viewpoint discrimination”, which is in violation of the constitutional rights of people with opposing views.

According to news.com.au, the court sidestepped the question of the president’s free speech rights under the Constitution's First Amendment on a privately-owned internet platform. However, the court affirmed that Trump has created a public forum for official White House business.

“The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilises a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” the judges wrote in a 29-page opinion.

Trump’s legal response is that he’s not acting in his official capacity when he blocks users, but the court disagreed.

“The president and multiple members of his administration have described his use of the account as official,” the appeals court ruling said.

“We conclude that the evidence of the official nature of the account is overwhelming. We also conclude that once the president has chosen a platform and opened up its interactive space to millions of users and participants, he may not selectively exclude those whose views he disagrees with.”