Controversies have seen several Twitter accounts blocked including that of former minister Sushma Swaraj and the CEO of Unique Identification Authority of India, A. B Pandey. The extent to which freedom has been guaranteed to the followers on social media of these countrywide leaders has become a great concern. There are many reasons that could lead to a twitter account being blocked, but the bottom line is that the terms and conditions of operation on twitter should be upheld at all times.
The United States President, Donald J Trump’s twitter account has approximately fifty million-plus followers and the Court of Appeals ruled that he cannot block any follower on his twitter account just because of a disagreement. The Court of Appeal from the Second Circuit held that blocking a follower would deny the individual rights to be involved in a public forum which is prohibited in the US. This is just an example of how much the terms and conditions of twitter are to be adhered to, to the brim.
As we already know, Indians do not have the free standards of speech as the Americans do, but Indians should already learn from the ruling of the Knight First Amendment Institute vs Trump. Despite the deep-rooted nature of the Indian and American constitutional and even historical differences, this ruling can be embraced by the Indians. Several social media users even sued Donald J Trump and several other officials as a result of being blocked from accessing Trump’s Twitter account because he disagreed with their views. These complainants claimed that blocking was against the ruling of the First Amendment.
One of the complainants, Buckwalter was blocked from accessing the twitter account of President Donald J Trump after he replied to the President’s tweet on his winning of the White House. The President accused the media outlets of being the advocates and perpetrators of the “fake news” media. The US District Court, therefore, made a judgment that the account is a public forum and no one should be denied the right of expression, a judgment that was supported by the US Court of Appeals. According to the ruling by the District Court, you cannot be allowed to block your twitter followers just because they have disagreed with your points of view.
We can already guess the reaction of President Donald J Trump, based on the tweets that followed the fateful ruling by the court. Using his account as he describes it “MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL”, the president, through his White House social media director, described his Twitter account as a means of directly connecting with the people as described by the court. The court also reasoned that in the same way that he tweets to communicate with the American people, it is also the same way that he acts to block the once who do not agree with him. It also established that when the President blocks users, chances of these complainants communicating with others on Twitter about the president are lessened. It also held that while he may open the interactive feature of his account to the public, he is entitled to do as he wants even with views that he doesn’t agree with. He goes on to say that his freedom of speech is upheld just as is the freedom of speech by his twitter followers. This leaves him with the freedom to block and unblock anyone he so wishes to, whether or not he or she agrees with his political standing.
But then, what happens when you are blocked from accessing a person on his or her twitter account? Mostly, people go on to create a pseudo account via which they continue with their unfinished agenda with the person. Unexpectedly, the government justified its claims based on the argument that complainants can access the president’s tweets in any way; by opening up new accounts, using search engines on twitter to view his views and also logging out to view the tweets from other platforms. This argument was disputed by the court because it was interpreted that these impromptu responses give the plaintiffs a hard time.
Laws burdening and laws banning speeches are distinguished by degree as observed by the court. The court admitted therefore that, the First Amendment cover does not apply to a Twitter user in the case of the President’s speech. In the case of the interactive features on his account, the contents are not controlled by the president. Remember, more often than not, the president has a social media manager who is responsible for reporting all of the social media info to him. This, however, does not imply that the president is answerable to his followers or any other public twitter user.
Therefore, more speech is the best response to a disfavored speech on public matters according to the court. The RTI international activists who are working hard to be similar to the Indian Prime minister can seek details of the blocked accounts by the prime minister if they exist at all because they disagree on their views.
Over the years, many twitter accounts have been blocked for going back on the agreements between twitter and the users. This may have been interpreted the wrong way as being at the forefront in minimizing the freedom of speech of the people, though. This is more reason other countries should revisit and learn more on the depths of using twitter so as to learn a lesson or two from some of the cases that have been going around, especially those involving the president of the United States, his twitter followers, and what he does or does not do with his twitter account.
Even for the sake of fame, opt to use the correct approaches when using twitter. Using foul means to amass followers and views is considered wrong, just as is using offensive and abusive language. As you open your twitter account, it helps to go over the terms and conditions so that you have a grasp of what to do to avoid being blocked out of your account or other people’s.