How making politicians unblock trolls could hurt speech online

President Donald Trump Returns To Washington From Camp David

Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Last week, the Knight First Amendment Institute urged Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to unblock critics on Twitter. The Knight Institute has led a push to treat politicians’ social media accounts as public forums, filing a successful lawsuit against President Donald Trump for his Twitter-blocking habits. Ocasio-Cortez argued that the issue was more nuanced, though: she said she was blocking “less than 20 accounts” and that it was for harassment, not political viewpoints.

Whether that’s accurate, the law suggests that blocking should be a last resort. A legal ruling from last year encouraged politicians to use Twitter’s “mute” function, which lets someone simply avoid seeing tweets from a user they dislike. It’s a fair way to…

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