Our digital society has brought people closer to government than ever before. Government websites provide the public with a wealth of information, including live-streamed hearings, legislative proposals, and even the ability to file taxes online. However, certain aspects of government social media raise significant questions involving the First Amendment. As government social media implicates protected political speech by its very nature, governments and their officials must act carefully to avoid unconstitutional censorship when moderating their social media accounts.
Recent news accounts on Long Island have focused on local governments that had deleted comments and blocked critics who had posted on the official Facebook pages of the municipality and its elected officials. While there is an extensive body of law on the First Amendment, New York courts have only addressed government social media in evidentiary disputes. However, recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal district court in Virginia suggest that the rigorous protections afforded to freedom of speech generally extend to the digital realm as well.
SCOTUS Tackles Social Media and the First Amendment
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