Può un politico bannare un follower dal proprio account Twitter? Si , se non si tratta di account ufficiale

La canditata Reisch (R.)  alle elezioni del parlamento del Missouri 44° distretto banna un follower (Campbell; poi: C.) per il semplice di aver ritweettato un post critico (caricato da terzi) nei suoi confronti.

C. agisce, facendo valere la violazione del diritto di parola in connessione con il 42 US Code § 1983, che suona così : “Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia“.

La questione allora è se R. agì “under color of state law”: l’attore dice di si, il convenuto di no. Così la corte: <<so the question this case presents is whether Reisch acted under color of statelaw when she blocked Campbell on Twitter. Campbell maintains that she did becauseshe blocked him for criticizing her fitness for political office even though she hadcreated a virtual forum for the public to discuss “the conduct of her office.” Reischsays she didn’t act under color of state law because she runs this Twitter account ina private capacity, namely, as a campaigner for political office>>, p. 4.

La corte di primo grado aveva ravvisato azione under color of state law.

La corte di appello del Missouri (8° circuito), con sentenza 27.01.2021, Campbell c. C. T. Reisch, n° 19-2994, invece, dice che non si tratta di account pubblico e dunque ben può il titolare bloccare chi vuole.

L’account era stato aperto prima dell’elezione e dunque non era ufficiale. Nè cambia tale qualificazione  il fatto che successivamente la canditata sia stata eletta: <<We don’t intimate that the essential character of a Twitter account is fixedforever. But the mere fact of Reisch’s election did not magically alter the account’scharacter, nor did it evolve into something different. A private account can turn intoa governmental one if it becomes an organ of official business, but that is not whathappened here. The overall theme of Reisch’s tweets—that’s she’s the right person forthe job—largely remained the same after her electoral victory. Her messagesfrequently harkened back to promises she made on the campaign trail, and she toutedher success in fulfilling those promises and in her performance as a legislator, oftenwith the same or similar hashtags as the ones she used while a candidate. So it seemsto us that Reisch used the account in the main to promote herself and position herselffor more electoral success down the road—a conclusion supported by the campaign-related tweet that led to this litigation>>, p. 7.

In breve, la corte pensa che l’account Twitter di R.  <<is more akin to a campaign newsletter than to anything else, and so it’s Reisch’s prerogative to select her audienceand present her page as she sees fit. She did not intend her Twitter page “to be like a public park, where anyone is welcome to enter and say whatever they want”>>.

La pensa all’opposto il giudice Kelly, autore della dissenting opinion: <<In short, Reisch’s persistent invocation of her position as an electedofficial overwhelmed any implicit references one might perceive to her campaign orfuture political ambitions>>.

(notizia e link alla sentenza presi dal  blog di Eric Goldman)