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Moving Justice Forward For 60 Years!

Unblocking the First Amendment

Announcing a new toolkit to help Utahns regain access to government social media pages. 

Clicking the “block” button on social media pages is now much more perilous for Utah politicians and government agencies. Not only have more courts ruled that silencing online critics violates the First Amendment, but the ACLU of Utah has released a new toolkit to help people regain access to official government social media pages. 

Over the last few years, we’ve noticed an increase in complaints from people blocked from governmental Twitter and Facebook pages due to the content of their comments. During election season, we receive on average one complaint a week and recognize that many other violations go unreported. 

As the issue has heated up, our response has evolved. In August 2017, we sent letters to Utah’s Congressional representatives, warning them that blocking people created an “unconstitutional restriction on their right to free speech under the First Amendment.” In January 2018, we published a “Know Your Rights” pamphlet on the topic, explaining the legal background to First Amendment protections on social media.

Our latest addition, released this month, is a Social Media Blocking Toolkit with updates on the latest court decisions, plus step-by-step advice on how to evaluate each blocking situation and take corrective action to restore First Amendment rights on social media. 

Social Media Flowchart final page 001The toolkit contains:

  • A flowchart to determine if free speech rights were violated.
  • A checklist of next steps.
  • A one-page explanation of the First Amendment’s protection for social media discourse.
  • Two “Demand Letters” (Simple) and (Legal) to download, customize, and send to the person(s) or organization(s) who blocked access.

 

Access a PDF version of the toolkit at this link (PDF)

 

 

 

 

 

…from the Fall 2019 Liberty Reporter


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