Social media is one of the fastest ways to deliver information to a large group of people. Occasionally on social media, it is common to “block” people so that you do not have to see their posts and vice versa. However, when a public official blocks someone and prevents them from receiving information—is this a violation of their First Amendment rights?
This November the Supreme Court must determine if public officials engaging in “state action” are constitutionally permitted to block certain parents from their social media accounts used to promote school policies and provide general information to others. Depending on the Court’s decision, this will change how school board officials use their social media accounts to provide information to the public.
After two parents were blocked on social media by two school board officials in California, the parents brought suit arguing that their First Amendment rights were violated since they could not view social media posts referencing the school district’s superintendent search, upcoming musical performances, and news about upcoming school board meetings. The school board members argued in their briefs that if the Court finds that there was a violation of the First Amendment, this will lead to “self-censorship by citizens who are also officials.”
In light of the upcoming elections, school board members will have to consider whether to utilize their own personal social media accounts to disseminate information to the public or whether to create a different account entirely.
 O’Connor-Ratliff v. Garnier