For generations, physical spaces – like public squares and town halls – have been critical forums for people to speak out on issues of public importance. But with the rise of social media, the avenues for members of the public to speak with their elected officials have expanded. Facebook comments and Twitter retweets are replacing the public meeting. In fact, the Supreme Court recently called these sites, “the modern public square,” where constituents can “petition their elected representatives and otherwise engage with them in a direct manner.”
If a public official uses their account to carry out their role as an elected official, then their page or account is subject to the First Amendment. That means they cannot engage in most forms of censorship such as blocking someone or deleting someone’s comments just because of their subject or opinion. It is also generally unacceptable for the official to ask the platform to delete comments for them.