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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) defended herself on Thursday night for blocking a few users on Twitter, arguing blocking people for harassment is not the same as blocking followers who have a different viewpoint than her.
Ocasio-Cortez made the remarks in response to a letter from the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University—which led an effort to sue President Donald Trump for blocking people on Twitter.
Last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision that Trump blocking critics on Twitter was unconstitutional. On the same day as the decision, two conservatives announced that they had sued Ocasio-Cortez for blocking them on Twitter.
In the Knight First Amendment Institute’s letter, it outlines why Twitter accounts from lawmakers have been found to be a “public forum” and urges her not to block people because of “views they have expressed.”
“We urge you to unblock any Twitter users whom you or your staff have blocked from the @AOC account because of the viewpoints they have expressed,” the letter reads. “We recognize that you may wish to block users for reasons that are both reasonable and constitutionally legitimate—for example, because their speech is threatening.”
“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.”
On Thursday evening, Ocasio-Cortez responded to the letter in a tweet, echoing parts of it.
“1. I have 5.2 million followers. Less than 20 accounts are blocked for ongoing harassment. 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,” the New York lawmaker wrote in a series of tweets. “People are free to speak whatever classist, racist, false, misogynistic, bigoted comments they’d like. They do not have the right to force others to endure their harassment and abuse. ✌🏽”
1. I have 5.2 million followers. Less than 20 accounts are blocked for ongoing harassment. 0 are my constituents.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 29, 2019
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. https://t.co/0QWKqJFzRe
People are free to speak whatever classist, racist, false, misogynistic, bigoted comments they’d like.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 29, 2019
They do not have the right to force others to endure their harassment and abuse. ✌🏽
Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).