Republican Governor Forced to Stop Blocking Facebook Users Who Criticize Him
Social media works both ways. Stifling criticism and critics is a mark of weakness.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan allegedly had a habit of blocking Facebook users and deleting comments when people criticized him, but a lawsuit has forced him to adopt a more open social media policy.
Four Maryland residents sued the Republican governor in a US District Court in August 2017, with help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland. The ACLU announced yesterday that a settlement has been finalized, requiring Hogan to implement a new social media policy within two weeks. The state is also required to pay $65,000 to the plaintiffs.
“The ACLU lawsuit is one in a wave of high-profile cases across the country against elected officials charged with trying to silence constituents on social media—including one case brought against President Donald Trump for blocking constituents on Twitter,” the ACLU of Maryland said.
The ACLU alleged that Hogan was violating constituents’ First Amendment rights to free speech. “Plaintiffs found that they could be, and were, arbitrarily censored by the Governor just for posting comments on the Facebook Page with which the Governor or his staff apparently disagreed,” the court complaint said. The governor and his staff “regularly delete comments and block users because of political disagreement with the messages posted,” the complaint also said.