Trump can't block users from his Twitter feed, federal judge rules

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae In in the Oval Office of the White House Tuesday

US District Judge in New York Southern District Naomi Reice Buchwald announced the ruling based on a petition filed by a group of 7 people who alleged that President Trump unlawfully blocked them on Twitter.

The claimants argued their First Amendment (free speech) rights "have been and will continue to be encumbered and the ability to communicate has been and will be limited because of each individual plaintiff's personal ownership of a Twitter account that was blocked".

Wednesday's ruling could complicate that debate, said Feldman, potentially giving people such as Yiannopolous grounds to sue Twitter and demand that they be permitted back on Twitter to view Trump's account and to participate in the public forum surrounding it.

And though the @RealDonaldTrump account was created long before the election, "the President and [his assistant Daniel] Scavino's present use of the @realDonaldTrump account weighs far more heavily in the analysis than the origin of the account as the creation of private citizen Donald Trump".

"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps", a spokesman said.

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In the lawsuit, the seven individual plaintiffs, which included a University of Maryland professor, a Texas police officer and a NY comic, said they were blocked from the @realDonaldTrump account after posting tweets critical of his policies.

She said Trump could "mute" users, meaning he would not see their tweets while they could still respond to his, without violating their free speech rights.

These claimants can not view Trumps tweets, reply to them or see the comments thread underneath them. She added, "no government official - including the President - is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared".

In addition to Mr Trump, the lawsuit named the President's social media director, Dan Scavino, as a defendant.

The Knight Institute hopes that the ruling against Trump will set a precedent for other public officials across the country. For Manhattan magistrate account is part of public forum and as such can not escape First Amendment, adopted in 1791 to protect freedom of expression. According to their lawsuit, because Mr Trump frequently turns to Twitter to make policy statements, his account qualifies as a public forum from which the government can not exclude people on the basis of their views.

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Trump has more than 50 million followers.

The case could affect other social media interactions involving public officials.

Twitter Inc, which is not a party to the lawsuit, declined to comment on the ruling.

Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, said he thinks the case was wrongly decided and expects it to be reversed.

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