Every January a new crop of elected officials set up their official social accounts to connect with their constituents... and we must remind them they can't block people for criticizing them.
Has an elected representative blocked you on social media?
If your answer is "yes," you've come to the right place.
The ACLU of Arizona believes that official social media pages of elected representatives and government agencies are public forums. And we also believe that blocking individuals from accessing these pages may be an unconstitutional restriction on their right to free speech under the First Amendment.
And we're not alone.
Court cases in New York, Virginia, and Maine have established that elected representatives violate the First Amendment when they block people who express critical opinions on Twitter and Facebook.
So, if you have been blocked from posting or commenting on an official social media page operated by an elected representative or government organization, this is the place to start getting unblocked.
STEP 1: Take photos or screenshots of the social media page that blocked you, including your posts if they are still visible or archived.
STEP 2: Use the “So you’ve been blocked on social media by a government official” flowchart to determine if your constitutional rights were violated (see flowchart).
STEP 3: Learn why blocking people on social media is unconstitutional and violates your First Amendment rights. Download and read the PDF: Why Does Social Media Blocking Violate the First Amendment?
You can also read the ACLU's recent blog post on this topic: "Can a Government Official Block You on Twitter?"
STEP 4: If the flowchart indicates that your rights were violated, contact the elected official via phone or email and asked to be unblocked (this low-key approach resolves 50% of complaints).
STEP 5: If you receive no response to your request to be unblocked, download and personalize one of the ACLU of Arizona's new DIY Demand Letter and send it to the elected official (see sample Demand Letter below).
Download and personalize the ACLU of Arizona's "DIY Demand Letter" to urge elected representatives to unblock your access to their social media pages: