Appeals court rules politicians can’t block critics on social media

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The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that a Virginia politician violated the First Amendment rights of a critic who was blocked from her Facebook page, Reuters reports.

The court ruled 3-0 that Phyllis Randall, the chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, violated Brian Davison’s rights when he was banned from following the “Chair Phillis J. Randall” Facebook page for 12 hours, according to Reuters. Davison was banned after he posted on the page to accuse school board members of corruption.

A judge on the circuit court reportedly said the “interactive component” of Facebook made it a public forum, meaning that Randall banning the critic was a violation of his constitutional rights. One of the judges wrote a separate opinion, the Washington Post notes, where she said the court should “await further guidance” from the Supreme Court about social media and the First Amendment.

President Donald Trump is also currently entangled in a social media blocking lawsuit. The president was sued by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and a group of Twitter users sued the president for blocking constituents.

Last spring, a federal judge ruled Trump violated the First Amendment rights of those he blocked, but the administration appealed the ruling.

You can read all of Reuters’ report here.

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