A Slap In The Face(book): Comments Deleted, Some Banned From Gov. Hogan’s Page

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A slap in the face on Facebook?

Some Marylanders are feeling that way, after being kicked off Governor Hogan’s page.

The travel ban that spurred protests nationwide also brought some Marylanders to Hogan’s Facebook page, calling on him to take a stand on the president’s executive order and the court battle that followed.

Last month at his state of the state address, communication was on Governor Hogan’s mind.

“Too often we see wedge politics and petty rhetoric used to belittle our adversaries and inflame partisan division,” he said then.

So is that why his staff has been removing comments and blocking people from the page?

“I felt insulted that my voice as a citizen of Maryland, a longtime citizen of Maryland, cannot be heard,” Bill Thayer told WJZ.

A teacher, Thayer says his comments questioned Hogan’s education policies.

“There was nothing disrespectful whatsoever about it, and it was just merely saying I didn’t agree with the policies.”

In published reports, a Hogan spokesman says about 450 people have been banned, half for using abusive language, the others deemed political spam attacks.

“Are these official pages?” asks Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, of Common Cause Maryland. “Does the page belong to the State of Maryland? Or is this Larry Hogan’s page, and therefore he can do what he wants to moderate the comments.”

Officially, Hogan has remained silent on the travel ban, but the fact remains that some Facebook users who wanted him to denounce it have gotten the boot on Facebook.

“And the question is, when is that acceptable?” Bevan-Dangel asks. “Maryland law doesn’t have an answer.”

Laws from brick and mortar statehouses, outpaced by digital and social media.

Hannah Marr, a spokeswoman for Hogan, released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

“The governor’s Facebook page encourages all manner of thoughtful political discourse and will continue to do so. However, we have an obligation to over 140,000 people who follow the governor’s page to not tolerate vulgar, incendiary speech or coordinated spam attacks from outside political groups. The political operatives making these attacks clearly have page envy due to the governor’s ability to use social media to communicate directly with thousands of citizens about issues political insiders would rather ignore, like ethics and redistricting reform.”

Some of those banished from the page say abusive language by Hogan’s supporters is tolerated.

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