The days of valuing differences in opinion have passed.
A U.S. federal court just ruled that government officials are allowed to block people on their social media pages who tarnish their reputations. Despite this being an obvious breach of First Amendment rights, officials can now promote who they want on their pages and block anyone with opposing views according to Reclaim The Net.
James Freed, the key figure in the case was. Freed, the City Manager of Port Huron in Michigan. He runs a Facebook page where he posts “a mixture of work-related and personal content.” Reclaim The Net pointed out that some of his posts deal with his administrative directives such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which was the driver in the court case after plaintiff Kevin Lindke was blocked following opposing comments on Freed’s posts.
Lindke filed suit against Freed, claiming that Freed had violated his First Amendment rights. Freed won the case and was found not to be engaging in any state action. His page contained mainly personal information, as well as postings regarding his work. So he was free to do as he pleases even though there were official releases, administrative instructions, and links that linked to the city, email, and website.
Freed, who was not allowed to manage the page nor pay for it or have ads on Facebook did not need to do so. Accordingly, the court ruled that the page wasn’t his responsibility and Freed is therefore free to block and censor constituents.
For any regular civilian, blocking someone you don’t like is no big deal, but when you run a public page to promote your administrative directives, the situation gets a bit more involved. Nonetheless, the court didn’t care.
“Freed can use his Facebook page to celebrate the brilliance of his taxpayer-funded work and suppress criticism of that work. From the perspective of government accountability, this is the worst of all worlds,” Eric Goldman wrote for Technology & Marketing Law blog.
Freed has the ability to present himself and his city in the best possible light, without fear of repercussions. Freed is censoring content that doesn’t boost his reputation for professional means.
This reminds me of how Big Tech supports the Biden Administration. The MRC Free Speech America team found that over the course of two years, Big Tech censored criticism of Biden 646 times in order to protect Biden’s reputation.
Big Tech no longer focuses on fairness or openness for all. Big Tech is all about regulation and control. Freed’s case and that of the Biden administration are examples.