KKTV 11 News (Colorado Springs): Multiple city of Colorado Springs social media accounts were blocking dozens of users. After answering questions from 11 News, they decided to unblock a majority of Facebook and Twitter accounts listed.
The Colorado Springs Police Department didn’t allow 72 users to see their content. The city’s fire department had 57 accounts blocked between the two platforms. Colorado Springs City Council was blocking nine accounts, including a media outlet.
These lists of blocked accounts could have potential legal problems concerning free speech.
“Public officials have to be very careful not to exclude based on content or viewpoint, at least if it’s the government’s website or a feed that is used to send out government information,” said University of Colorado law professor Scott Moss.
Many municipalities have social media policies in place that allow officials to block users for various reasons, but the city of Colorado Springs’ social media policy does not mention reasons to block people. The policy on the city’s website only mentions deleting comments on posts by a department if someone is harassing, using profanity or using obscenities.
Local governments are allowed to block users as long as their policy reasons are content-neutral so that it doesn’t violate the First Amendment, Moss said.
“You don’t really need new law,” Moss explained. “What you need though is awareness on the part of government officials that ‘hey, there’s new stuff.’ This speech just like the old stuff that we couldn’t restrict.”
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