Cowardly Republicans Are Blocking Constituents On Social Media In Violation Of 1st Amendment
Well, Donald Trump is not the only one blocking constituents on social media. The erratic President has come under fire for blocking users on his Twitter account. Now, ProPublica reports that Republican lawmakers across the country are blocking constituents from sharing their thoughts on social media, and it’s raising a 21st-century debate about free speech rights.
According to the report, people across the country say they have been cut off by Republicans at all levels of government after voicing dissent on social media.
In Arizona, a disabled Army veteran grew so angry when her congressman blocked her and others from posting dissenting views on his Facebook page that she began delivering actual blocks to his office, the Washington Post reports.
A central Texas congressman has barred so many constituents on Twitter that a local activist group has begun selling T-shirts complaining about it.
As of February, Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan had blocked 450 people on Facebook.
Kentucky’s Republican Governor Matt Bevin earned his own hashtag (#BevinBlocked) after he blocked multiple constituents on Twitter. People started delivering block messages to Republican Congressman Paul Gosar’s office in Arizona after he continued to block them online. And the Indivisible Group in Austin, Texas, started selling t-shirts for those who had been blocked by their local lawmaker on social media.
Meanwhile, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday that he chose not to hold town halls while visiting his southeastern Wisconsin congressional district because he doesn’t want to be “harassed by constituents.”
On Tuesday, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University called upon Trump to unblock people who’ve disagreed with him or directed criticism at him via the @realdonaldtrump account, which he used prior to becoming president and continues to use as his principal Twitter outlet.
Trump blocked me after this tweet.
Let's all hope the courts continue to protect us. Never stop resisting. pic.twitter.com/TlR4zgHCoU
— Nick Jack Pappas (@Pappiness) June 5, 2017
Why it matters:
Social media is an integral part of many people’s lives — from mine to the President’s. And these networks are always thinking of ways to better connect people with their lawmakers. Facebook, for example, just added an update that will make it easier for politicians to identify and communicate with their constituents online.
As ProPublica notes, if you’re blocked by your lawmaker on social media, you have no access to their official page and therefore no way to interact with them online. You cannot post, like or comment on their page, nor can you comment or leave questions during live videos. And many lawmakers don’t have official policies about how to allow re-entry for someone who was previously blocked.
Constitutional scholars say that Lawmakers who block people from interacting with them on social media are “purposefully removing any semblance of debate or alternative ideas or ideas that challenge his own — and that seems completely undemocratic.”
This brings one big question: Are users’ First Amendment rights being violated when a lawmaker blocks them online?
What do you think? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.