Public Officials’ Social Media Accounts — An Unintentional Public Forum?

Feb 28, 2019

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Public Officials Social Media and the First Amendment

Public officials and employees who personally create or maintain interactive blogs or social media account to communicate with the public about government matters cannot lawfully block users or censor comments based on the user’s viewpoint. At least two federal courts have determined that a public official’s privately created social media page, even if only partially devoted to government business, opens a forum for speech and exposes the official to money damages and attorneys’ fees under 42 USC 1983, 1988 for viewpoint‐based censorship.