Public Officials Face Off Against Social Media

By Samantha Grant

Controversy surrounding public officials and their use of social media is on the rise.

On July 31st, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky filed a federal lawsuit again Governor Matt Bevin.  The reason: Bevin blocked certain Facebook and Twitter users from following his accounts.

The lawsuit’s complaint states that by blocking some of his social media followers, Bevin is violating the First Amendment by not allowing the entire public to view any of his news and policy statements.

Amanda Stamper, a spokeswoman for Bevin, issued a statement that Bevin did not violate any free speech rights.

“[Bevin blocks users] who post obscene and abusive language or images, or repeated off-topic comments and spam,” said Stamper.

Last week, the ACLU sent letters to Maine Governor Paul LePage and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.  Both letters suggested potential legal action due to the governors’ blocking people from viewing their public social media accounts.

This pushback against public officials blocking people on social media arose when Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute filed suit against President Trump for his practice of blocking Twitter followers who tweeted him critical responses.



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