BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland is suing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan for his alleged Facebook censorship.
The ACLU claims comments were deleted and people were banned from posting on Governor Larry Hogan’s official Facebook page after posting comments critical of Hogan on his page.
The lawsuit comes after a similar lawsuit was filed against President Donald Trump for blocking some users from his Twitter page.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four people who the ACLU says have been censored by Governor Hogan. It seeks a “permanent injunction against the Governor’s unconstitutional social media policy as enforced by the Governor and his staff.”
“Those that disagree have been deleted and censored. So, it gives much rosier picture of the state of affairs in Maryland than is actually real,” said ACLU legal director Debbie Jeon.
In February, when asked about the allegations the governor fired back saying it was justified.
“Many of the people on there are putting hateful, rude, you know profane death threats racist comments and sometimes just repetitively spamming,” Hogan said.
It was also in February that WJZ spoke with Allison Heintz who said her post was nothing of the sort but was still blocked.
“I find it insulting to be called a spammer,” Heintz said.
Heintz has since been unblocked from the governor’s Facebook page but others, like those involved in the lawsuit, said their first amendment rights are still being violated.
One of the individuals being represented in the lawsuit said their post was neither threatening or rude but merely inquiring about the governor stance on the proposed travel ban.
One legal expert said this isn’t the first case of it’s kind. It’s a complicated issue that likely won’t being ruled on local courts.
“I think ultimately it will end up either this case or a case similar to this in the Supreme Court,” said attorney Warren Alperstein.
The lawsuit was filed in Greenbelt, Maryland on behalf of four Facebook users.
In February, the governor’s office said that about 450 people had been banned from the governor’s Facebook page over two years for spam or abusive language.
Governor Hogan’s office released the following statement:
“This frivolous lawsuit is completely without merit, a waste of taxpayer dollars, and has more to do with partisan politics than anything else. The governor’s office has a very clear social media policy, and we will continue to remove all hateful and violent content and coordinated spam attacks to foster an open and constructive dialogue. Ultimately, with all of the challenges we face in this country and across the globe, we can all agree that the ACLU should be focusing on more important issues than monitoring Facebook pages.”
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