Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez apologizes for blocking a critic on Twitter and settles a lawsuit charging that she violated the First Amendment




Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez apologizes for blocking a critic on Twitter and settles a lawsuit charging that she violated the First Amendment
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez apologizes for blocking a critic on Twitter and settles a lawsuit charging that she violated the First Amendment  

Associated Press

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed by former Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who accused the lawmaker of violating the First Amendment by blocking him on Twitter.

  • In a statement obtained by Insider, Ocasio-Cortez said on Monday that Hikind was exercising his constitutionally-protected right to free speech by criticizing her on Twitter. She unblocked him.

  • "In retrospect, it was wrong and improper and does not reflect the values I cherish. I sincerely apologize for blocking Mr. Hikind," she said.

  • But the congresswoman insisted that she won't refrain from blocking accounts in the future that she believes are engaging in improper harassment.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed by former Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who accused the lawmaker of violating the First Amendment by blocking him on Twitter.

In a statement obtained by Insider, Ocasio-Cortez said on Monday that she had "reconsidered" her decision to block Hikind from her account. She conceded that Hikind, an outspoken conservative, was exercising his constitutionally-protected right to free speech by criticizing her on Twitter.

The announcement, first reported by the New York Post, comes just one day before Ocasio-Cortez was scheduled to testify in federal court in Brooklyn.

"Mr. Hikind has a First Amendment right to express his views and should not be blocked for them," she said. "In retrospect, it was wrong and improper and does not reflect the values I cherish. I sincerely apologize for blocking Mr. Hikind."

The lawmaker, who has 5.7 million Twitter followers, previously defended her decision to block about 20 Twitter users from her personal account because she argued that their online behavior amounted to harassment.

"Harassment is not a viewpoint," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in August. "Some accounts, like the Daily Caller, posted fake nude photos of me & abused my comments to spread it. No one is entitled to abuse."

In her Monday statement, the congresswoman insisted that she won't refrain from blocking accounts from following her or reading her tweets in the future when she believes the users have engaged in improper harassment.

"Now and in the future, however, I reserve the right to block users who engage in actual harassment or exploit my personal/campaign account, @AOC, for commercial or other improper purposes," she said.

Ocasio-Cortez's move is a surprising about-face, given that she publicly defended her decision to block users just a few months ago. A source close to the lawmaker also recently defended her attempts to block users who reply to her tweets with provocative comments as a way to boost their following.

"I think not letting right-wing trolls use you as a springboard to elevate their hateful platform is a fine thing to do," the source told Insider in October. "It's not even really about her hearing it or seeing the vitriol. It's about using - clout chasers."

Some prominent First Amendment experts have urged Ocasio-Cortez in recent months to reverse her decision to block critics on the social media platform.

"Many of your tweets staking out positions on issues such as immigration, the environment, and impeachment have made headline news," Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute wrote in a letter to the congresswoman. "The @AOC account is important to you as a legislator, to your constituents, and to others who seek to understand and influence your legislative decisions and priorities."

Legal precedent wasn't in Ocasio-Cortez's favor. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in July that President Donald Trump is violating the First Amendment by blocking critics from his Twitter account. The government petitioned for re-hearing in August.

The appeals court held that when the president and other public officials use online forums like Twitter for government business, they transform them into public forums subject to First Amendment protections.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals similarly ruled last January that a local elected official in Virginia violated the First Amendment when she blocked a constituent on Facebook for 12 hours.

  • Read more:

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blocked a conservative news outlet on Twitter, and legal experts say that could be unconstitutional

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she has the right to block critics on social media - a court ruling against Trump suggests she might not

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the revenge porn campaign targeting Rep. Katie Hill is a 'major crime' that wouldn't happen to a male member of Congress

NOW WATCH: Extremists turned a frog meme into a hate symbol, but Hong Kong protesters revived it as an emblem of hope

COMMENTS

More Related News

The 17-year-old
The 17-year-old 'mastermind' behind the massive Twitter hack reportedly has a history of running online scams using Minecraft and Bitcoin
  • US
  • 2020-08-03 15:10:22Z

Legal records show that Graham Clark was previously suspected of being involved in the theft of $856,000 at age 16 but was never charged.

FCC chair says agency will take public comment on Trump social media petition
FCC chair says agency will take public comment on Trump social media petition
  • US
  • 2020-08-03 14:54:17Z

The Federal Communications Commission will take public comment for 45 days on a petition filed by the Trump administration seeking new transparency rules in how social media companies moderate content, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said on Monday. Pai rejected calls from Democrats that he summarily dismiss the petition without public comment.

Amitabh Bachchan: Bollywood star recovers from Covid-19
Amitabh Bachchan: Bollywood star recovers from Covid-19

The Bollywood giant, 77, thanks hospital staff for their care after being treated for coronavirus.

British teenager charged with hacking Twitter celebrities faces extradition to the US
British teenager charged with hacking Twitter celebrities faces extradition to the US
  • US
  • 2020-08-01 18:15:25Z

A British teenager charged with hacking Twitter had his home searched by the National Crime Agency and is likely to face extradition to the US, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal. Mason Sheppard, a 19-year-old from Bognor Regis, was one of three people charged by the US Department of Justice on Friday night over an alleged cyber scam that saw the accounts of various celebrities hijacked last month. Sources told the Sunday Telegraph Mr Sheppard, who is said to go by the codename 'Chaewon', could face extradition if prosecutors in the US put in a request. However, he has not been arrested by officers in Britain, who are assisting in their investigation. Mr Sheppard is in a long line of British...

The Morning After: Trump threatens to
The Morning After: Trump threatens to 'ban' TikTok

Charging documents from the prosecutors claim the Florida teen conducted a spear phishing attack by pretending to be Twitter IT and convincing an employee to hand over credentials. Looking forward, we're ready for some big news next week, with Google's Pixel 4a poised to launch on Monday before Samsung's big Galaxy Unpacked event Wednesday. This week on the show, Devindra and Cherlynn chat about Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon's long-awaited antitrust hearing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America