ACLU files suit for Facebook users censored by municipalities

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed two lawsuits Friday on behalf of two individuals who have been censored and blocked from posting comments on Facebook pages that are operated by government entities.

The ACLU filed lawsuits in two different federal courts on behalf of Richard Wolf, of Elkhart and Carol Bare of Martinsville.

Wolf was blocked from posting on the City’s of Elkhart’s Facebook page in 2015 after he used the forum to express concern about various violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act including the lack of accessible parking at the Lerner Theatre in Elkhart. His comments were removed from the site without notice and he remains blocked from posting on the site, according to a press release from ACLU.

Bare was blocked from the Martinsville Police Department’s Facebook page also in 2015 after she posted criticism of the police. The police department immediately removed her post, and she remains blocked from posting comments on the page, according to the press release.

The ACLU argues that such censorship of speech based on viewpoint violates the First Amendment. The suit also seeks to stop government entities from blocking Facebook users from posting comments.

“When a government entity opens up a space for public comment, it cannot regulate those comments based upon someone’s viewpoint,” ALCU of Indiana staff attorney Jane Mensz said in a press release. “A citizens’ right to criticize their government is at the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect, and the municipalities, in these cases, violated that right.”

For more information or to download a copy of the suits, visit ACLU.