January 4, 2021

Every January a new crop of elected officials sets up official social accounts to connect to their constituents... and we have to remind they can't block people for criticizing them.

Has an elected representative blocked you on social media?
If your answer is "yes," you've come to the right place. 

The ACLU of Utah believes that official social media pages for elected representatives and government organizations are public forums. And we also believe the blocking individuals from accessing these pages may be an unconstitutional restriction on their right to free speech under the First Amendment.

And we're not alone.
Recent court cases in New York, Virginia, and Maine have established that elected representatives are violating the First Amendment when they block individuals for expressing critical opinions on Twitter and Facebook. 

So, if you have been blocked from posting or commenting on an official social media page operated by an elected representative or government organization, this is the place to start getting unblocked.

Follow our Checklist (download as a PDF)

checklist reg 300

STEP 1: Take photos or screenshots of the social media page that blocked you, including your posts if they are still visible or archived.

STEP 2: Use the “So you’ve been blocked on social media by a government official” flowchart to determine if your constitutional rights were violated (see flowchart below). 

STEP 3: Learn why blocking people on social media is unconstitutional and violates your First Amendment rights. Download and read the PDF: Why Does Social Media Blocking Violate the First Amendment?

You can also read the national ACLU's blog post on this topic: "Can a Government Official Block You on Twitter?"

STEP 4: If the flowchart determines your rights were violated, contact the elected official via phone or email and asked to be unblocked (this low-key approach resolves 50% of complaints).

STEP 5: If you receive no response to the above request, download and personalize one of the ACLU of Utah’s new DIY Demand Letters and send it to the elected official (see both Demand Letters below)

STEP 6: If you receive no response after 30 days, contact the ACLU of Utah at www.acluutah.org/request-help, or call 801-521-9862.

“So you’ve been blocked on social media by a government official” flowchart to see if your rights were violated. (Download as a PDF)

Download and personalize the ACLU of Utah's "DIY Demand Letters" to convince elected representatives to unblock your access to their social media pages

Simple Letter (Word) (.odt) - 1-page letter with minimal legal case references, simple wording and basic explanations

Simple letter 1 200

Legal Letter (Word) (.odt)- 3-page letter with extensive legal case references, legal languge, and complex explanations 

Legal letter 1 200