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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Donald Trump is being sued for blocking people on Twitter

Donald Trump is being sued by a group of people because he blocked them on Twitter.

The US president, no stranger to a Twitter controversy, is being sued by seven people who claim he is infringing on their rights to free speech.

The lawsuit was filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute, a free speech group at Columbia University in New York.

Its clients, seven Twitter users, claim their accounts were blocked by Mr Trump or his aides after they replied to his tweets in a critical manner.

Now that their accounts have been blocked by Mr Trump, the users are unable to view his tweets or respond to them.

The lawsuit argues that Mr Trump is preventing those users from joining the online conversation by blocking them.

It says his move is a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the right to free speech.

The users claim Mr Trump is trying to ‘suppress dissent’.

The president isn’t the only one named in the lawsuit – White House press secretary Sean Spicer and social media director Daniel Scavino are also included.

Last month, Mr Spicer said Mr Trump’s tweets were ‘official statements by the president of the United States’.

His account, @realDonaldTrump, has 33.7 million followers, while the official @POTUS account has 19.3 million.

The suit reads: ‘The @realDonaldTrump account is 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.

‘And members of the public use the reply function to respond to the president and his aides and exchange views with one another.’

Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, said Mr Trump’s Twitter account has become ‘an important source of news and information about the government’.

He said: ‘The First Amendment applies to this digital forum in the same way it applies to town halls and open school board meetings.

‘The White House acts unlawfully when it excludes people from this forum simply because they’ve disagreed with the president.’

Those filing the lawsuit want an injunction that will require Mr Trump to unlock their accounts and stop blocking others.

Eugene Gu, from Nashville, is one of those suing the president after he was blocked for making a critical comment.

He said: ‘Now I have extremely limited access to the public forum where I once could be heard. I feel cut off and as though I’m being treated like an outsider in my own country.’

The White House has not commented on the lawsuit.

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