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The Freedom of Tweets: The Intersection of Government Use of Social Media and Public Forum Doctrine

By Samantha Briggs

In recent years, American presidents and other government actors have moved much of their communications with the general public online, through their use of social media. President Donald Trump is particularly known for his use of Twitter and his extensive communications via his account, @realDonaldTrump. Such government social media usage has historically gone unchecked by the courts, but that changed when the Knight Institute brought suit against President Trump for violating the First Amendment rights of users blocked by @realDonaldTrump.

This litigation is an illuminating example of why First Amendment analysis must extend to government social media pages, and yet raises new challenges. There are logical reasons why government actors may want to exert certain controls over their social media pages, though these controls will potentially run against the First Amendment. As such, this Note not only argues why First Amendment analysis must extend to government use of social media, but also proposes methods for how government actors might structure their online presences to avoid First Amendment rebuke.

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