Tribe Thumps Trump’s Tweet

Trump uses tweets as a means of keeping his image out in the public without paying a dime.


Just to be clear: Trump’s statement that Twitter, a private company, is abridging his First Amendment freedom of speech by tagging his wild tweets about write-in voter fraud as misleading is totally absurd and legally illiterate. This thread explains why:

1. The First Amendment limits only the Government, not private entities like Twitter.

2. Anyway, Twitter’s tagging of Trump’s claims about write-in voting is itself absolutely protected under the First Amendment as an expression of opinion.

3. In addition, Twitter’s tagging, even insofar as it can be construed as a factual statement, is shielded by the defense of truth: the claim that Trump’s tweets about massive write-in voter fraud are at best extremely misleading and at worst downright lies is demonstrably true.

Laurence H. Tribe has been a Harvard Law professor since 1968, specializing in American constitutional law.  So his tweet about Trump’s twitter has clout.  Twitter’s decision to comment on the tweets of its customers, or even to remove them entirely, is perfectly permissible.  Twitter is no different from a private newspaper.  If Trump issued his opinions in letters to the New York Times, the paper could print the letters (or not) and comment upon them (or not).  The only real limitation for Twitter is making factual misstatements about Trump or his twitter that might rise to the level of libel.  That could subject it to a lawsuit.

Now that Twitter has been liberated, what further comments might it make?  It could make Trump’s tweets into political cartoons and draw ridiculous comments on what he says.  It could attach a poll to Trump’s comments, asking how many voters support or don’t what the president says.  It could link comments by others to what Trump tweets.  And it could encourage opinions by others (like Tribe) to twitterings by Trump.  

In fact, if it tried hard it enough, it might completely discourage Trump from tweeting.  Not that it would want to, as he’s a leading advertisement for their service.  And not that it’s likely to happen.  Trump uses tweets as a means of keeping his image out in the public without paying a dime.


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