ATLANTA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia is threatening legal action against two sheriffs, a police department, and one congressman demanding that they stop censoring their critics who post on official government Facebook pages.
ACLU of Georgia Threatens Legal Action Against Georgia Government Officials Unless They Stop Censoring Critics on Social Media
“Our democracy thrives when people can freely criticize elected officials,” begins the letter the ACLU of Georgia sent to Habersham County Sheriff’s Office, Worth County Sheriff’s Office, Henry County Police Department, and Congressman Drew Ferguson.
In July 2017, a Federal District Court in Virginia ruled against a politician for censoring her critics’ comments on Facebook. “The Court cannot treat a First Amendment violation in this vital, developing forum differently than it would elsewhere.” That same month, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision involving the state of North Carolina in which the nation’s high court wrote that social media is “the most important” place for the “exchange of views” on the Internet.
The ACLU of Maryland and ACLU of Maine are suing their respective governors for censoring its critics on government Facebook pages. The ACLU of Pennsylvania is asking a Pittsburg city councilmember to stop deleting comments from critics. Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar is being sued for censoring one of his critics. California Governor Jerry Brown released documents in September that “show that he blocked about 1,500 individuals on Facebook, and several hundred on Twitter” but that the office no longer blocked anyone on its social media accounts.
“Politicians need to catch up to the 21st Century and get with the program,” stated Sean J. Young, Legal Director for the ACLU of Georgia. “We are demanding that these public officials restore the posting privileges of each of the people that the offices’ wrongfully blocked and have restored the commenting privileges to all of those whom government officials unlawfully blocked.