GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn — Conversations online can encourage people to say things they might not in person.
All those voices can be hateful or cruel, and they can be silenced. But, the tools we use to mute critics can't be used by everyone.
Tuesday the Federal Appeals Court ruled President Trump can't block critics from his Twitter account. The court ruled blocking people because they criticize is a violation of the constitution.
In Tuesday's ruling the judge wrote the First Amendment prohibits an official who uses a social media account for government purposes from banning people from an "otherwise open online dialogue" because they say things that the official finds offensive.
If you think the president doesn't use Twitter to conduct government business, recall a White House Press Briefing with former press secretary, Sean Spicer from June of 2017. During that interview, Spicer said Trump's tweets are official White House statements.
In Minneapolis, Greta Bergstrom knows the ruling could have broader implications for how the First Amendment applies to the social-media era. The city of Minneapolis is finalizing a social media policy that would require the mayor and council members use city-approved social media accounts. It would prohibit them from blocking constituents. The last revision was August 9, 2011.
“It has a pretty broad definition of anyone who works for the city and puts out information for the city, that could be a contractor,” she said. “It provides clear guidance on personal accounts and making sure that city elected officials have city account to push out city businessman information and that is separate from their personal account.”
Bergstrom said city employees and elected officials have a responsibility with city information to be fully transparent and accessible to the public.