President Trump wants to wage war against critic trolling him: Twitter sues government for trying to compel the exposure of an anti-Trump troll

The president is seeking to squash any public dissent on social media [UPDATED]

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published April 7, 2017 3:22PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
(Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

This story has been updated since it was first published.

Updated:  1:40 p.m. EST:  Twitter has dropped its lawsuit against the Trump administration after the request for information was withdrawn.

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President Donald Trump may be famous for his frequent use of Twitter, but that hasn't stopped him from getting on Twitter's bad side — by trying to force the company to expose one of its users.

Twitter is suing the Trump administration after the Department of Homeland Security tried to force the president's preferred social-media platform to expose the identity of the individual or individuals behind an account called "ALT_USCIS," according to a report by Recode. The user of that account had been critical of Trump's immigration policies and the Homeland Security Department insisted that Twitter unmask whoever is responsible for the account. In response, Twitter filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

In its complaint, Twitter argued that "the rights of free speech afforded Twitter’s users and Twitter itself under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution include a right to disseminate such anonymous or pseudonymous political speech." The company later added that abiding by the government's request "would have a grave chilling effect on the speech of that account in particular and on the many other ‘alternative agency’ accounts that have been created to voice dissent to government policies."

Democrats in Congress are siding with Twitter over Trump in what has been described as a "witch hunt."
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told Recode in a statement that "the Department of Homeland Security appears to have abused its authority and wasted taxpayer resources, all to uncover an anonymous critic on Twitter." The Democratic senator also called for an investigation "to determine who directed this witch hunt."
Other "alternative agency" accounts that have emerged to criticize the Trump administration include ones purportedly from people employed at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Labor Department.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Internet Privacy Privacy Trump Trolls Twitter Twitter Trolls