- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended her right to block Twitter users who harass her after Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute sent her a letter deeming the action unconstitutional.
- The institute said it sent the letter onWednesday “in the hope of dissuading” Ocasio-Cortez from blocking Twitter users, which it said was a violation of the First Amendment because her @AOC Twitter account is a “public forum.”
- Ocasio-Cortez said on Thursday that she blocked fewer than 20 accounts out of her 5.2 million followers and only for “ongoing harassment.”
- Last month, a federal court upheld a ruling that President Donald Trump’s blocking users on Twitter was unconstitutional and discriminatory.
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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended her right to block Twitter users who harass her after Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute sent her a letter deeming the action unconstitutional.
The institute said it sent the letter on Wednesday to the New York congresswoman “in the hope of dissuading” her from blocking Twitter users, which the organisation said violated the First Amendment because her @AOC Twitter account is a “public forum.”
“Many of your tweets staking out positions on issues such as immigration, the environment, and impeachment have made headline news,” the letter said. “The @AOC account is important to you as a legislator, to your constituents, and to others who seek to understand and influence your legislative decisions and priorities.”
The letter urged the lawmaker to “unblock any Twitter users whom you or your staff have blocked from the @AOC account because of the viewpoints they have expressed,” while acknowledging that she may “wish to block users for reasons that are both reasonable and constitutionally legitimate.”
“We also recognise that abuse and harassment are significant problems on social media, especially for women and minorities, and that this abuse and harassment can deter speech and political participation that are crucial to our democracy,” the letter continued.
Ocasio-Cortez said no one has ‘the right to force others to endure their harassment and abuse’
Ocasio-Cortez responded on Thursday on Twitter, saying that out of her 5.2 million followers she blocked fewer than 20 accounts, none of which was a constituent, “for ongoing harassment.”
1. I have 5.2 million followers. Less than 20 accounts are blocked for ongoing harassment. 0 are my constituents.
2. Harassment is not a viewpoint. Some accounts, like the Daily Caller, posted fake nude photos of me & abused my comments to spread it. No one is entitled to abuse. https://t.co/0QWKqJFzRe
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 29, 2019
“Harassment is not a viewpoint,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “Some accounts, like the Daily Caller, posted fake nude photos of me & abused my comments to spread it. No one is entitled to abuse.
“People are free to speak whatever classist, racist, false, misogynistic, bigoted comments they’d like,” the congresswoman continued in another tweet. “They do not have the right to force others to endure their harassment and abuse.”
A representative from the Knight First Amendment Institute did not immediately respond to emails for comment from Business Insider.
Last month, a federal court upheld a ruling that President Donald Trump could not block Twitter users from his @realDonaldTrump account, saying the action was unconstitutional and discriminatory.
“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 US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit said in the ruling.
Ocasio-Cortez also faced two lawsuits last month from Joseph Saladino, who’s running for a US House seat, and Dov Hikind, a former New York assemblyman, who said she blocked them on Twitter and asked a judge to make her unblock them. Both cited the appellate court ruling, saying that both Ocasio-Cortez and the president are public figures.
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