And maybe legal action – A social media page can be the equivalent of a public meeting, a federal appellate court found for the first time last week.
by Laura Maggi
“A local official in Virginia temporarily blocked an outspoken constituent from her official Facebook page two years ago, provoking a legal battle that ended last week with a federal appellate court finding that politicians’ social media sites are public forums that can’t be restricted in that way.
“A unanimous panel of judges on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals cautioned that a public official banning a critic online—an issue that has reached as high as the presidency with President Trump’s history of blocking Twitter users—can violate citizens’ constitutional free speech rights.
“‘It is important to remember that people who hold public office can wear two hats: Sometimes, they act as private individuals, and other times they are government actors. While they maintain their First Amendment rights when acting as private individuals, they are subject to the limits the First Amendment places on the government whenever they’re doing government work,’ wrote ACLU staff attorney Vera Eidelman in a blog post about the decision.”