Retain a single list of all blocked users and pages, for all of your managed accounts, with timelines and evidence to defend your actions.
Social media has become an essential communication tool for public entities to keep their community informed and engaged. And while there are tremendous benefits to social media, it can also bring an avalanche of misinformation, opposing viewpoints, and extremist speech. Which makes it extremely tempting for public officials to block users. While blocking is typically viewed as a last resort, if someone has violated your policy multiple times and is disrupting the discourse on your page, then it may be suitable to block that user. But as we’ve seen occur so often in the news, blocking users is also the number one way folks get afoul with First Amendment lawsuits. The fact is, public entities are responsible for identifying any records that have been hidden or deleted, as well as any users that have been blocked and when the block occurred.
In order to protect your entity from trolls or First Amendment related requests, ArchiveSocial created Blocked Lists. Blocked Lists is a feature that provides the lists of users and pages blocked by a social media account, as well as when and why the block occurred. You can also set up alerts to get notified whenever a block occurs from one of your accounts. Because we know that managing every blocked user across your social media can be A LOT. And social networks don’t let you know when a block happens or if something has been hidden or edited, which can lead to a compliance gap, and also remove any examples of trolling that caused you to block a user.
With ArchiveSocial, you can track:
For all of your managed accounts and platforms!
Not only does Blocked Lists let you get a handle on who you’ve blocked and the records associated with these users, but it also lets you see who everyone else in your organization is blocking and get live alerts when it happens, even for accounts you may not normally have access to, so you can ensure your internal policy is followed correctly and even help avoid legal risk. With Blocked Lists, you can monitor and manage every blocked user and page in one secure place – your archive! And with advanced search, you can quickly find and export this data whenever you need it, along with the comments that resulted in the block.
Blocked Lists helps you:
Create and maintain a single list of all blocked users and pages, for all of your managed accounts in one secure location, that is updated daily and available to access and export at any time. And set-up alerts to get notified immediately when a block occurs.
Keep track of the timeline for when a particular user or page was blocked or unblocked from an account, as well as your account’s communications to and from a blocked user or page.
Capture the context of what happened with in-record collaboration and annotations. Have confidence in your block with clear timelines and strong supporting evidence to defend your actions or prove a false claim, timeline of events, or if your social media policy was followed correctly.
Leverage insight you may not normally have to see who’s blocking users for every account across your entire organization and get notified when it happens with alerts, so you can ensure your internal policy is followed correctly and even help avoid legal risk.
In the News
The city of Irvine, CA settled a First Amendment lawsuit from July against former Mayor, Christina Shea over blocking a resident on Facebook after he posted comments on her personal page following protests. The lawsuit claimed Shea “violated First Amendment rights by blocking his ability to engage in open discussion,” and Shea was asked to unblock the resident and to cease deleting critical comments. “The city settled for nearly $40,000. Irvine also spent more than $80,000 in legal fees.” The Knight First Amendment Institute said, “When government officials use social media as an extension of their office, then if they are going to allow comments, they can’t discriminate on the basis of the content of those comments.” Social media posts are public record, preserving them and what users have been blocked may be critical to protecting your entity from lawsuit or erosion of trust.
LATimes.com “Irvine settles lawsuit that accused former Irvine mayor of violating a resident’s 1st Amendment rights”, Jan 12, 2021
The IL State Attorney General determined Orland Park, IL violated FOIA laws after it failed to fulfill a record request for a list of blocked users on its social media accounts. The village of Orland Park argued that the lists are not subject to records law, but The Attorney General determined that as the owner of the accounts, The Village chooses which users to block, thus creating the record they are obligated to fill. Having a policy in place, an archive, and an alerting tool can help protect your entity against social media misuse.
The Wichita Eagle, “Woman sues a Kansas city and mayor over deleted Facebook posts on COVID-19 response”, May 25, 2020
A second federal lawsuit has been filed against Savannah Mayor Van Johnson alleging free speech concerns and the First Amendment for censoring a woman and more than 200 others on his official ‘Mayor Van Johnson’ communications pages where he conducts official city business. When Johnson refused to unblock these users, they went to court. There, the courts established that citizens have a First Amendment right to interact with government officials in a political forum. Public officials are held accountable the same way their agencies are.
AllOnGeorgia, “Federal Lawsuits Filed Against Savannah Mayor Over Free Speech Violations”, July 24, 2020
Superintendent of Elmhurst School District 205, Dave Moyer, blocked users from his Twitter account, which is linked to the school district’s website. A public records request was filed with the school district to get the list of Twitter users blocked from Moyer’s account. School district social media posts & messages, as well as replies and comments to these posts, are public record and may be subject to public record laws, eDiscovery requests, First Amendment protections, and other related lawsuits.
Patch.com, “Who Is D-205 Leader Blocking on Twitter?”, Aug 31, 2020