Miss. ACLU warns public officials to stop ‘blocking’ on social media

ACLU warns public officials to stop 'blocking' on social media
ACLU warns public officials to stop 'blocking' on social media(WLBT/WLOX)
Updated: Jan. 6, 2021 at 1:14 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The ACLU of Mississippi sent a warning to five public officials accusing them of violating the First Amendment by blocking critics on their official social media pages.

ACLU sent letters to Governor Tate Reeves, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, Mayor Hal Marx, Congressman Steven Palazzo, and the Jones County Sheriff’s Department warning them to stop the practice.

The organization said multiple complaints were received from citizens who said their comments/accounts were either blocked or banned after expressing criticism on the elected officials’ pages.

ACLU explained that the First Amendment protects speech on social media regarding public officials and their policies and practices. No government official can allow positive commentary and silence the critics.

“This action is equivalent to closing public meetings to disagreeing constituents,” staff attorney Landon Thames said.

ACLU said the comment sections of government social media pages are designated public forums “created by government designation of a place or channel of communication for use by the public at large for assembly and speech, for use by certain speakers, or for the discussion of certain subjects.” Cornelius v. NAACP, 473 U.S. 788, 802 (1985).

The organization warns that if the public officials do not stop this practice, legal action may take place.

To view the letters and this press release online, click here.

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