Donald Trump Blocked a Jimmy Kimmel Writer and it Could Reveal His Twitter Strategy

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By Emily Zanotti | 4:59 pm, May 30, 2017

Sometime before Monday, Donald Trump blocked comedy writer Bess Kalb (@BessBell) on Twitter, and now she and her followers have some questions.

The New Yorker columnist and Jimmy Kimmel Live! comedy writer makes fun of the President regularly, but like most Twitter users, probably didn’t expect he’d really notice.

But when she went to tag the President in a Tweet this weekend, according to media, she discovered he’d silenced her account.

She’s not the first. Trump has blocked a handful of notable accounts before, mostly for making fun of his hair or implying that he has a small penis.

Kalb, though, mostly took issue with his policies, and made the same kind of lame jokes about Trump’s ineptitude nearly everyone else on Twitter does on a daily basis. The final offending Tweet was about Trump’s appearance with the Pope and his take on healthcare policy.

It’s not exactly a unique sentiment among Trump’s Twitter critics. But for some reason, the President—or whomever runs his Twitter account—found it particularly problematic.

According to Kalb’s Twitter, she wants to know how many people Trump has blocked, why, and whether they were specifically targeted for their membership in the amorphous anti-Trump resistance. Some of her followers even suggested she pursue legal action.

She sought the advice of Twitter’s CEO first.

Technically, there’s no guarantee that Twitter can keep that kind of information secret, or even that Twitter users have a right to privacy in who they choose to block, mute and censor. But Twitter may not want to make a habit of releasing people’s block lists, since a number of Twitter’s most dedicated supporters of censorship have their own block lists they’d like to keep secret.

But other official accounts have been in trouble for creating “block lists.” Sweden “voluntarily rescinded” a 14,000-person block list after users discovered they were marked as “disruptive” by the country’s official social media presence. In that case, though, users discovered their presence on a block list—it wasn’t revealed by Twitter’s corporate leadership.

Some users suggested that Kalb seek the help of the ACLU and sue the President for the list herself, on the theory that by blocking her, Trump was keeping her from what is, ostensibly, part of the President’s public record, which should be available to the public under the Presidential Records Act.

The case could have merit except that Kalb isn’t being denied access to Trump’s Tweets. She could logout of Twitter and view the President’s timeline just as it appears to users who he hasn’t blocked. She can’t reply to his Tweets or acknowledge his presence on the social network.

A more astute user suggested she attempt to get the President’s block list under the Freedom of Information Act. This would only work if the President were keeping an actual physical list of his enemies, but knowing Trump, that’s not a remote possibility. It could be worth a shot—and might turn up some fun stuff regardless of whether the block list appears.

For her part, though, Kalb just wrapped it all up with a cat picture.

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