When government officials block people from viewing or commenting on social media pages, they may be violating constituents’ First Amendment rights, ACLU-WV wrote in a letter to every state lawmaker today.
“The right to critique public officials lies at the very heart of the First Amendment,” Legal Director Loree Stark and Staff Attorney Nick Ward wrote in the letter, which also instructs lawmakers to review all blocked individuals and “restore their access as is appropriate.”
The letter was a response to numerous complaints ACLU-WV has received in recent weeks about lawmakers from both political parties blocking constituents on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Court rulings binding on West Virginia have found that these pages are public forums.
However, public officials do have the right to restrict access to their pages under certain circumstances. That’s why ACLU-WV has also compiled a toolkit (link) to help members of the public better understand their rights.
Has a government official blocked you on social media? Review the toolkit and read the letter below to determine if your rights may have been violated.