Blocking Dissenting Voices on Government Facebook Page Violates First Amendment

Is an elected official’s Facebook page their private page or a public site? A federal appellate court says it depends on how it’s used. Phyllis Randall, the Chair of the Loudoun County, Virginia Board of Supervisors, set up a Facebook page identifying herself as a government official and listing her public title as well as contact information for her office on the page. Her posts from the page are addressed to her constituents and she encouraged conversation between her constituents on her page until one of them, Brian Davison, posted content with which she disagreed. Then she blocked him from the page. Both a trial court and a federal appellate court ruled Randall violated Davison’s First Amendment rights. Read more about the case and how this may protect the free speech of dissenting voices on government social media pages.