Letters to GA SOS, Sen. Isakson, and Murray County Sheriff Warning Against Censoring Constituents
On March 20, 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia sent letters to the Secretary of State, a U.S. Senator, and the Murray County Sheriff warning these government officials for appearing to engage in government censorship to silence constituents who posted critical comments on their office’s social media accounts.
“In this era of unprecedented attacks on our democracy, freedom of speech is more important than ever,” said Sean J. Young, Legal Director for the ACLU of Georgia.
In the instance of the Secretary of State, the social media pages appeared to double as both a personal campaign as well as official government social media channels, thus subjecting the Secretary to the First Amendment’s requirements. Screenshots attached to the letter show that a critical comment was later deleted. In addition, the screenshots reflected the use of the social media channels for both campaign and official government business.
As the letter explains, “Although your Facebook page ostensibly appears to be a personal gubernatorial campaign page, your government website directly links to your campaign Facebook page as well as your campaign Twitter page. In addition, you routinely use your personal campaign Facebook page to conduct official government business, as dozens of posts from the last year demonstrate. There also does not appear to be any other Facebook page affiliated with your office.”
In recent months, the ACLU of Georgia also sent demand letters to two sheriffs, a police department, and three members of Congress demanding that they stop censoring their critics who post on official government social media accounts.