back to article Blocking peeps on social media? That's a paddlin' for governors, senators, house reps

More US public officials have been sued for blocking people from their social media pages. Those sued including the governors of Maine, Maryland and Kentucky, while all of Utah's Congressional representatives have been sent letters warning them of legal repercussion if they prevent constituents from accessing their public …

  1. IanTP
    Mushroom

    The Burger King vs McDonalds war is coming. (Judge Dredd, Cursed Earth story) The final breakdown of American society :)

    Obligatory nuke icon.

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      I just about remember the "Burger Wars" stories, they haven't been reprinted for a very long time due to legal issues but that changed a couple of years back.

      1. toxicdragon

        Indeed, the judge dredd anthology I have has just a page saying "we cant print this, copyright." Would be good to be able to read it, I kind of missed it the first time around.

  2. Sureo
    Flame

    If the politicians want the benefits of social media they should be willing to take the heat that comes with it. Seems they want to tell you how it is but aren't interested in what you have to say.

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      The pols are saying thay do not normally block individuals. They do block organised "campaigners" who clog up their inboxes with identical copies of the same parroted message.

      "Organised democracy" is very different from personal liberty.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        WTF?

        So... riddle me this... when is a democracy organized?

        In truth Democracies tend to be one of the more inefficient forms of governments.

        Ironically, that's actually a good thing.

        1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          @IMG

          "Democracy" is organised when a group of people organise their supporters to post if favour of some internet petition. OK, I was stretching the meaning of the word democracy.

          Especially when these organised efforts actually thwart the unspoken sensitivities of the decent apathetic majority. Yes, this does happen, in GB and US.

  3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Boffin

    Meh!

    So...

    Let me get this straight.

    The US politicians have taken to use social media to expand their reach in to the getting the word out.

    Yet they block individuals from being able to access said accounts.

    Ok? And?

    I mean if Sen. Al Franken were to block Anne Coulter from his account, do you think the Press would care? (Franken is liberal, Coulter is Conservative.)

    Also why would a politician ban someone from their social media account unless said person was a twat and was abusing the privilege ? Suppose you were following Trump and then started to retweet "Trump is a meanie..." or something worse? Would it be wrong for Trump to say buh-bye, you're banned from being one of his followers?

    Public Servant or Private Citizen, its the same thing. If the service (Twitter) allows one to ban followers... then the right to do so exists for all.

    Seems there are lawyers who are happy to take your money or do it to make a name for themselves.

    Wouldn't it be great if we had a legal system where the loser pays? Now that would shut down this carp fast.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Meh!

      "Public Servant or Private Citizen, its the same thing. If the service (Twitter) allows one to ban followers... then the right to do so exists for all."

      Except that that's exactly the matter in question.

    2. AbeSapian

      Re: Meh!

      The point being that this use of social media constitutes official communication from an elected official. Every one of their constituents has the right to access that information. And if comments are allowed, every one of their constituents has the right to weigh in whether they agree or not, whether they like the official or not.

    3. Terrance Brennan

      Re: Meh!

      Winners can counter sue for their legal costs and in this case I believe the politicians will lose anyway. If the posted comments are constitutionally protected elected members of government cannot block them. We the people have a right to petition the government for redress of grievances. The petitioners in these cases have made clear they are not trying to protect threatening or obscene posts. If elected officials choose to use social media to conduct official business (and communicating with constituents or the press about work as an elected official counts as such) then they cannot block otherwise lawful posts. Personally, I believe social media is the bane of modern society; but, if elected knuckleheads want to use to further their goals/policies/ambitions they have to deal with its short comings.

    4. Ben Trabetere

      Re: Meh!

      "I mean if Sen. Al Franken were to block Anne Coulter from his account, do you think the Press would care? (Franken is liberal, Coulter is Conservative.)"

      The Press has pretty much ignored politicians who block people from their social media accounts, so I think it is safe to assume they would ignore it if Sen. Franken were to start. The ACLU would notice, and he would be called to task for it.

      I doubt Sen. Franken would block anyone. It is likely he would encourage Anne Coulter to follow his social media account, and he would be thrilled if AC were to inject her hate-filled drivel to the discussion. I am certain he would respond to her, and the response would have a distinct "Go away or I shall taunt you a second time" tone to it. He has dealt with her in the past.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shouting into the void

    Block me, go on!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social Media has become a cesspit

    of hate, drivel and more hate.

    It was a good idea once but people being people and corporations wanting to own the world it has gone down the drain.

    Just delete your accounts and live a better, less stressful life.

    Is it that important to find out 10 seconds earlier that Trump has dropped an A-bomb on N.Korea. The world as we know it will be over for all of us if he does so it does not matter in the long run.

  6. samzeman

    Everybody is at fault except us, the internet masses

    Half kidding.

    Social media needs to sort itself out and block campaigners, spammers, harassers. I mean, there are plenty of actual nazis on twitter that literally condone death camps and stuff. Maybe if they treated their report systems more seriously instead of doing an elementary "We'll keep an eye on it!" and then not, people would use it.

    Also, public figures shouldn't have a reason to block. Blocking is for awkward personal drama, reporting should be for harassment and spam. If a website isn't against harassment and spam in its terms, it's not a good website by any means. I seem to remember in US law that stuff is illegal too.

  7. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    The more i read about America...

    ... the more it seems like the best solution would be just to split the country in two. Create a Republic of the USA and a Democracy of the USA. Maybe the coasts to the Democrats (except Florida!) and the middle to the Republicans?

    Seems like a good solution to me as I really dont get the desire to keep countries together that are split so much on ideological lines and hate each other with so much Passion! (I think Iraq and Libya, are two other lands that could probably benefit from being split up into separate parts).

    1. AbeSapian

      Re: The more i read about America...

      We fought a war on that topic.

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: The more i read about America...

      That's usually called "Jesusland": http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/jesusland

      Alternatively, Dumbfuckistan: https://rosamondpress.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/dum.jpg

      1. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

        Re: The more i read about America...

        And...now we see why these leaders want to block folks.

        Official communication or not, being blocked does not prevent you from receiving the communication any more than being left off a mailing list keeps you from seeing the mail. Far less, in fact, as I am sure that the commenters here know. Anyone can set up a lurker account that follows & never posts. It's only when you think that you are so special and clever that you should be able to interfere with the attempt of an elected official to communicate to the public that you will be banned.

        I really, REALLY don't see how this goes anywhere.

  8. ecofeco Silver badge

    This is correct

    "You and your office have embraced social media as a key means of communicating and interacting with constituents and the public," state the warning letters sent from the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, aka the ACLU. "Because your social media pages are a public forum, your blocking of these individuals is an unconstitutional restriction on their right to free speech under the First Amendment."

    Damn right.

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