A first amendment advocacy group is asking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to unblock Twitter users who have differing political viewpoints from her, saying that blocking twitter users is “unconstitutional.”
The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University say that part of their mission is to defend “the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education.”
The group sent Ocasio-Cortez a letter on Aug. 28 in which they said, “Based on the facts as we understand them, the @AOC account is a ‘public forum’ within the meaning of the First Amendment.”
“You use the account as an extension of your office to share information about congressional hearings, to explain policy proposals, to advocate legislation, and to solicit public comment about issues relating to government,” the letter stated. “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.”
Ocasio-Cortez has about 5.3 million followers on her @AOC Twitter account while her official congressional account, @RepAOC, has 188,000 followers.
In response to the request to unblock twitter users, Ocasio-Cortez sent a tweet that disagreed with The Knight First Amendment Institute:
“1. I have 5.2 million followers. Less than 20 accounts are blocked for ongoing harassment,” she wrote. “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.”
Yesterday when Laura Ingraham of Fox News questioned Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter about the “less than 20” twitter accounts being blocked, Ocasio-Cortez, making another reference to The Knight First Amendment Institute’s letter, responded, “See? You’re a neo-Nazi fan favorite and I don’t block you for defending white supremacist viewpoints and mocking gun violence survivors.”
The First Amendment group did say that it is constitutional to block users when “speech is threatening.” There have been officials, however, that said they did not threaten the congresswoman but were blocked anyway.