Twitter Just Taught Trump A Lesson About Free Speech
First amendment = protected. For now.
The Trump administration has withdrawn its demand that Twitter reveal who’s behind an anonymous account that’s lately been critical of immigration policy.
The US Department of Justice reportedly told Twitter on Friday that it would officially withdraw its summons to reveal the identity of a user(s) known as @ALT_uscis, which stands for “alternative US Citizenship and Immigration Services.”
The account claims to be run by a staffer (or staffers) working inside the agency, and has lampooned Trump’s (frankly terrible) immigration decisions for months.
For example, @ALT_uscis tweeted this last night:
Twitter’s victory is great news?—?at least for now.
For months, Trump has tried to find out who’s behind @ALT_uscis. In March, the US Department of Homeland Security officially summoned Twitter to turn over @ALT_uscis’s phone number, mailing address and IP address, which feels like something Putin might do.
On Thursday, Twitter announced that it was suing DHS and US Customs and Border Protection, which is housed under DHS’ umbrella. Twitter’s lawsuit claimed those agencies violated the First Amendment by trying to figure out @ALT_uscis’s identity.
On Friday, in light of the government’s retreat, the company dropped the lawsuit.
@ALT_uscis’s followers have ballooned from 30,000 to 150,000 in the 24 hours since the lawsuit was filed.
Every day it seems like the US is becoming more like Russia. Between arresting journalists and trying to discredit the media, Trump’s ongoing attempts to restrict freedom of speech in America are downright Kremlin-esque.
It’s not hard to see the danger of allowing the government to unmask, and presumably punish, those who criticize it. Every middle school social studies student knows the ability to say negative things about the government without ending up in a labor camp is what makes democracy democracy.
So it’s pretty awesome that Twitter stood up to Trump’s bullying and won. Here’s hoping this teaches Trump a lesson or two about the sacredness of free speech in America?—?but don’t hold your breath.