The Legality of Echo Chambers

A few days ago Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had a lawsuit filed against her by Joey Saladino. Mr. Saladino is of course better known as “Joey Salads” of staged youtube pranks fame. He’s produced such hits as: “PUNCHING FRIENDS FOR MONEY *prank*”, “N-WORD PRANK (GONE WRONG), and perennial favorite “ABDUCTING CHILD IN FRONT OF DAD (Social Experiment)”.

The lawsuit was filed due to Mr. Saladino being blocked by Ocasio-Cortez on twitter. I can’t find exactly what it is he tweeted that resulted in his block, but ultimately it doesn’t matter, as Ocasio-Cortez is legally in the wrong here regardless. She could have used twitter’s mute function, but blocking other users from seeing her tweets is currently illegal, as per the recent ruling against Donald Trump.

From a New York times article dated July 9th, 2019: The First Amendment prohibits an official who uses a social media account for government purposes from excluding people from an “otherwise open online dialogue” because they say things that the official finds objectionable, Judge Parker wrote.

What this means, is that since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez uses her @AOC account to discuss government matters, she cannot block people from that account. She also has an account (@RepAOC) that seems to serve as more of an “official account”, yet that one has a mere 45 tweets posted as of this writing, whereas her primary account has tweeted 8510 times. Perhaps she figured that only her “official” account was beholden to these rules, but Trump also has a primary account and an official account (@realDonaldTrump and @POTUS), and the ruling barred him from blocking people on either.

I think part of the bigger problem here is that the U.S. is electing a few too many insecure narcissists, who end up treating their government positions more as beneficial social-media venues than an actual jobs. They’re more interested in amassing likes and engaging in “clap-backs” than actually accomplishing anything of substance with the positions they were elected into.

This narcissism tends to involve getting rid of anyone who might criticize them in a public forum, potentially making them look bad. If you’ve effectively blocked everyone who disagrees with you, and only keep the people around who shower you with praise, you develop this erroneous delusion that everything you say is “right” and that everyone agrees with you. This is effectively what happens in communist regimes and dictatorships. If you send everyone to the gulags who opposes you, soon enough you’re left surrounded by only people who agree with you and “adore” you. This is why we have the First Amendment in the U.S. No government official or leader should be above criticism.

Another part of the problem is that prior to social media, government officials tended to just mind their business, and actually do their jobs. It was rare for the populace to know much about members of the House or Senate, other than those who represented their own state or region. Now, every member is trying to become a social media star, and with that, we are now privy to the less savory sides of these people. Politicians getting into pointless arguments, saying generally stupid things, and supporting terrible causes for social brownie points have all become the norm.

Trump and Ocasio-Cortez are two of the worst on twitter, so it comes as no surprise that they receive the most blow-back and end up blocking people in fits of thin-skinned rage. Between Trump’s constant name-calling and mud-slinging at people he dislikes, and Ocasio-Cortez’s incessant back-and-forths with people who so much as question the inaccuracies she regularly spews, it’s quite the shit-show. I have a folder on my computer that I screenshot and save dumb tweets to, and Trump and Ocasio-Cortez are by far the MVPs of said folder. They should star in a buddy cop film together.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this lawsuit and all the copycat lawsuits that inevitably happen in its wake. There’s quite a few other members of Congress who are guilty of having a heavy ban finger on social media. Politicians are probably going to have to start learning how to use that mute button.