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Thursday, October 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Sunday Spin 2: Is social media the new “town square”?

Another potential constitutional controversy involves lawmakers and their social media accounts. 

The ACLU of Washington said last week legislators should not be blocking people with whom they disagree or deleting comments with opposing views from their official Facebook, Twitter or other accounts.

“Where lawmakers invite their constituents and the public to engage with them on matters of concern to their elected office on a social media platform, they cannot then selectively censor certain voices. . . simply because they disagree with their viewpoint,” Elizabeth Smith, the organization’s legislative director, wrote.

Social media currently functions as a “town square” and blocking such critics or criticism amounts to censorship that violates 1st Amendment Free Speech guarantees.

The ACLU said it constituents who have reported being blocked or having posts deleted by lawmakers for criticizing the way they do their job. They’re not talking about people or posts that use threatening or vulgar language.

The organization is “encouraging” lawmakers review their public accounts and unblock critics or undelete critical posts. They aren’t saying what they might do if that doesn’t happen but it doesn’t take a genius to know where this might be headed if lawmakers don’t.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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