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US appeals against ruling that Trump could not block Twitter followers

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The U.S. Justice Department said on Monday it would appeal against a federal judge’s ruling that President Donald Trump may not legally block Twitter users from his account on the social media platform based on their political views, according to a court filing.

Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer for the seven plaintiffs who sued, said the @realDonaldTrump account had unblocked the seven plaintiffs on Monday.

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“We’re pleased that the White House unblocked our clients from the President’s Twitter account but disappointed that the government intends to appeal the district court’s thoughtful and well-supported ruling,” Jaffer said in an email.

The White House did not comment immediately. A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed the plaintiffs had been unblocked.

Trump has made his Twitter account – with more than 52 million followers – an integral and controversial part of his presidency, using it to promote his agenda, announce policy and attack critics. He has blocked many critics from his account, which prevents them from directly responding to his tweets.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan ruled on May 23 that comments on the president’s account, and those of other government officials, were public forums and that blocking Twitter users for their views violated their right to free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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Buchwald’s ruling was in response to a First Amendment lawsuit filed against Trump in July 2017 by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and several Twitter users.

The plaintiffs include Philip Cohen, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, and Brandon Neely, a Texas police officer.

Cohen, who was blocked from Trump’s account a year ago, wrote on Twitter late Monday: “We whined. We complained. We sued. We won our First Amendment lawsuit in federal court. And now @realDonaldTrump has unblocked me. Wow!”

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Neely tweeted at Trump after he was unblocked late Monday: “@realDonaldTrump 368 days and a win in court and now I AM BACK!!!”

Novelists Stephen King and Anne Rice, comedian Rosie O’Donnell, model Chrissy Teigen, actress Marina Sirtis and the military veterans political action committee VoteVets.org are among others who have said on Twitter that Trump blocked them.

Buchwald rejected the argument by Justice Department lawyers that Trump’s own First Amendment rights allowed him to block people with whom he did not wish to interact.

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

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sandra Maler, Leslie Adler and Paul Tait

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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US states ready antitrust probe of tech titans: report

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Top prosecutors from a group of US states are readying a joint investigation into whether major technology firms have violated antitrust law, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The alliance of state attorneys general could formally announce next month that they are delving into whether leading internet firms and technology platforms have used their clout to thwart competition, the Journal reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

The US Department of Justice last month announced it is reviewing "whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers."

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Gamers risk health in bid to be eSports millionaires

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A record $33.5 million is up for grabs but professional eSports players like those competing in The International in Shanghai this week pay a physical price with deteriorating eyesight, digestive problems and wrist and hand damage.

At first, Evgenii "Blizzy" Ri looks perplexed at the notion: "It's impossible, how can you get injuries when you play games?"

Then the 24-year-old from Kyrgyzstan discloses that a doctor urged him to take six months off to give his failing vision a badly needed rest.

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GOP lawmaker cut the mic on black woman’s facts — but let white men spew ‘lunacy and lies’: report

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The Republican chair of a Tennessee legislative committee is under fire for cutting off the microphone while a woman of color was speaking -- but allowing white men to spew "lunacy."

"It took all of five minutes for Sen. Mike Bell, chairman of the Tennessee General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, to prove Cherisse Scott’s point. Scott is founder and CEO of Sister Reach, a Memphis organization that fights for reproductive freedom and health for rural women and girls of color struggling with poverty," Memphis Commercial Appeal columnist Tonyaa Weathersbee explained.

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