WEEKLY: ACLU Monitoring Officials On Social Media

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on July 26, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite community by subscribing today!

Bruce Hamilton, a staff attorney for the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, told LaPolitics that of the dozen or so complaints that his organization has received this year about government officials supposedly “abusing” social media platforms, at least five of them involve Congressman Clay Higgins. LaPolitics became aware that the ACLU was fielding complaints and monitoring the online activities of elected officials after a subscriber posted a related status update on their social media account.

When contacted, Hamilton declined to disclose the other officials who have spurred complaints from Louisiana citizens, but said they range from a member of Congress to a parish public informations officer. At least one complaint is involves a citizen being blocked by an elected official, but what exactly the ACLU deems to be abuse is unclear.

Hamilton said the ACLU sent a letter to Higgins Monday telling him about these complains and asking him to address them. Hamilton said they have yet to get a reply, and Higgins’ office said they don’t have a record of receiving the letter. The ACLU declined to share the letter with LaPolitics.

While his name never surfaced as part of this particular story, Sen. Conrad Appel has a reputation on Twitter for blocking certain accounts. “I have a real simple rule,” said Appel. “If someone uses foul language, makes threatening or derogatory comments or attacks someone personally, I block them.”

As for what comes next, if anything, we’ll just have to wait and see. “There’s a legal basis for saying public officials can’t do this,” Hamilton said. “When a government official creates a Facebook page or establishes a forum to engage in dialogue with his or her constituents…  they can’t just selectively decide to delete comments they don’t like.”

Mitch Rabalais contributed to this report.

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on July 26, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite community by subscribing today!

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