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Supreme Court defines when it’s illegal for public officials to block social media critics

Photo illustration of the Supreme Court building with gavels behind.
Cath Virginia / The Verge | Photos via Getty Images

In an opinion signed by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court established a test to determine when a public official can be considered to be engaging in state action in blocking someone from their social media account. The official must have both “(1) possessed actual authority to speak on the State’s behalf on a particular matter, and (2) purported to exercise that authority when speaking in the relevant social-media posts.”

The court issued a unanimous decision in Lindke v. Freed, a case about whether Port Huron, Michigan city manager James Freed violated the First Amendment by blocking and deleting comments on his Facebook page from resident Kevin Lindke, who critiqued Freed’s pandemic policies. The test creates a new way to…

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