It’s not secret that Donald J. Trump has always used Twitter as a tool to harass and intimidate any and all who get in his way or question his antics, says Sabrina Joy Stevens, but what is precedented is that this is now the President of the United States who is using social media to threaten private citizens and others outside our borders.
“Does the First Amendment protect Trump’s actions — or those whose lives may be put on the line because they’ve exercised their own rights to free speech?” Stevens wonders.
And what can, and should, Twitter do to reign in Trump and to mitigate the damage his 140 characters can certainly wreak on otherwise innocent Americans? ask Stevens who, like the rest of who use social media regularly, knows “how deeply disturbed some of its users are.” She also understands that “online harassment can easily lead to offline consequences.”
Some of Trump’s targets have been well-known celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell and Megyn Kelly but what of the ordinary private citizens who cannot afford to hire private security. What do they do when strangers show up at their homes?
The First Amendment argument used by trolls to justify hate speech and death threats is grossly misapplied here, says Stevens. “The First Amendment is meant to prevent agents of the government from limiting Americans’ rights to free speech,” she argues, but nowhere does our Constitution support “the idea that private individuals, interacting on privately-owned platforms like Twitter.”