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AOC says she has right to block Twitter users who harass her



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 wrote a letter Wednesday to the New York congresswoman “in the hope of dissuading” her from blocking Twitter users, which the organization says violates 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 reads. “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 recognizing that she may “wish to block users for reasons that are both reasonable and constitutionally legitimate.”

“We also recognize 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’

Echoing the latter, Ocasio-Cortez responded to the letter via Twitter, saying that, out of her 5.2 million followers, she only blocks 20 accounts for “ongoing harassment.” None of the users are her constituents, she wrote.

Read more: A US appeals court has upheld a ruling that bars Trump from blocking people on Twitter because it’s discriminatory and unconstitutional

“Harassment is not a viewpoint,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in the tweet. “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 the Twitter thread. “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.

Another political figure that has gone under fire for the same action is President Donald Trump, who is known for blocking Twitter users from his @realDonaldTrump account. A federal court upheld a ruling last month that Trump cannot block Twitter accounts, saying that it was unconstitutional and discriminatory.

“The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes 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 plaintiffs who claimed that she blocked them on Twitter and asked a judge to make her unblock them. Congressional candidate Joseph Saladino and former state assemblyman Dov Hikind cited the aforementioned appellate court ruling, since both AOC and the president are public figures.

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