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The First Amendment and Social Media: How Free Speech Doctrines Affect the Right to Access the Social Media Accounts of Government Officials

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The First Amendment and Social Media: How Free Speech Doctrines Affect the Right to Access the Social Media Accounts of Government Officials
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DeSoi, Dylan Reid
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Internet-based social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter have become the preferred method of correspondence among public and private citizens. Government officials often establish accounts to share important information with their constituents. Now, users who have their social media blocked by a public official are unable to interact with public officials, and allege this to be a clear violation of their First Amendment right to freedom of speech and petition. This thesis examines the question: How do the free speech doctrines of viewpoint discrimination, public forum, and government speech affect the First Amendment right to access the social media accounts of government officials? The focus is on the law as it applies to efforts by government officials to block social media accounts. Analysis reveals that the First Amendment right to access is preserved through the creation of public fora, but the government reserves the right to delineate rules for posts, justified under the government speech doctrine. ( en )
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Awarded Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, on May 8, 2018. Major: Criminology
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College or School: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
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Advisor: Lonn Lanza-Kaduce, Clay Calvert, Jodi Lane. Advisor Department or School: Criminology & Law

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University of Florida
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Copyright Dylan Reid DeSoi. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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THE FIRST AMENDMENT AND SOCIAL MEDIA: HOW FREE SPEECH DOCTRINES AFFECT THE RIGHT TO ACCESS THE SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS OF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS By DYLAN R. DESOI A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2018

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2018 Dylan DeSoi

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ADVISORY COMMITTEE Lonn Lanza Kaduce, Ph D Former Undergraduate Coordinator Professor, Department of Sociology, Criminology & Law University of Florida Chair Clay Calvert, Ph D Director, Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project Brechner Eminent Scholar of Mass Communication Professor, College of Jou rnalism and Communications University of Florida Co Chair Jodi Lane, Ph D Undergraduate Coordinator Research Foundation Professor Department of Sociology, Criminology & Law University of Florida Co Chair

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS A special thanks to the incredible help of Drs. Lanza Kaduce, Calvert, and Lane for their assistance and tremendous knowledge in the completion of my research. It has been a pleasure to not only take classes from these talented professors, but to work with t hem one on one on a timely topic has been a truly rewarding undergraduate experience.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT..................................................................................................................... .1 INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................2 PART I: FREE SPEECH BACKGROUND...................................................................10 PART II: IN FAVOR OF THE PLAINTIFF .................................................................12 A : THE PUBLIC FORUM DOCTRINE......................................................... ... 15 B.: VIEWPOINT DISCRIMINATION...................... ............................... ...........20 PART III: GOVERNMENT SPEECH DOCTRINE & DEFENSES............................25 A.: KNIGHT FIRST AMENDMENT INSTITUTE v. TRUMP .........................28 B.: DAVISON v. PLOWMAN .............................................................................30 C.: GOVERNMENT DEFENSE: FIRST AMENDMENT ACCESS.................32 PART IV: HOW DO THE DOCTRINES PREVAIL?...................................................36 CONCLUSION........................................................................................ ......................41 LIST OF REFERENCES..............................................................................................43

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! 1 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts THE FIRST AMENDMENT AND SOCIAL MEDIA: HOW FREE SPEECH DOCTRINES AFFECT THE RIGHT TO ACCESS THE SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS OF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS By Dylan R. DeSoi May 2018 A BSTRACT Internet based social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter have be come the preferred method of correspondence among public and private citizens Government officials often establish accounts to share important information with their constituents. Now, users who have their social media blocked by a public official are una ble to interact with public officials and allege this violates their First Amendment right s to freedom of speech and petition This thesis examines the question: How do the free speech doctrines of viewpoint discrimination, public forum, and government speech affect the First Amendment right to access the social media accounts of government officials? The focus is on the law as it applies to efforts by government officials to block social media ac counts. Analysis reveals that the First Amendment right to access is preserved through the creation of public fora but the government reserves the right to delineate rules for posts, justified under the government speech doctrine.

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! 2 I NTRODUCTION The First Amendment to the United States Constitution affords citizens the sacrosanct right s to free speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The Amendment reads : "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." These pr ovisions are paramount to the American values of individual liberty and free expression and the government generally may not infringe upon them. 1 The First Amendment is regarded as a "viewpoint neutral" doctrine the government generally cannot censor speech because of the viewpoint position, or opinion expressed According to constitutional law p rofessor Leslie Gielow Jacobs: "If the speech is private, then the fundamental question is whether the government excludes perspectives on an otherwise permissible subjec t. 2 The inability of governme nt to silence its detractors is a core First Amendment tenet. In the modern information era, communication often occurs through online platforms that allow individuals to interact within seconds. Private entities such as Facebook and Twitter are among the most popular of these platforms collectively known as "social media According to survey giant Statista, 81% of the U .S. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 The U.S. Supreme Court has held that some varieties of speech are not safeguarded by the First Amendment. See Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coal., 535 U.S. 234, 245 46 (2002) ("The freedom of speech has its limits; it does not embrace certain categories of speech, including defamation, incitement, obscenity, and pornography produced with real children.") 2 Leslie Gielow Jacobs, Clarifying the Content Based/Content Neutral and Content /Viewpoint Determinations, 34 McGeorge L. Rev. 595 (2003).

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! 3 populatio n nearly 262 million people ma intain a social media profile. 3 Twitter, known for brief messages called tweets boasts nearly 70 million users in the United States, while Facebook has 213 million. 4 These accounts are used not only by everyday individuals but also by businesses, celebrities, government agencies, and go vernment officials due to their lack of barriers to entry, convenience and vast, instantaneous reach. A study conducted by the Congressional Research Service in 2016 found that electronic messages were the favor ite mode of communicating among members of Congress, as well as with constituents and third parties. By January 2013, all 100 U .S. Senators had Twitter accounts, and nearly every m ember of the House of Representatives had at least one official congressional social media account. 5 N ot only used by m embers of Congress, more than 90% of Congressional Committees had their own social media accounts to keep constituents up to date. 6 Beyon d these federal legislative bodies, government entities and officials around the world have adopted social media accounts to quickly communicate ideas and information to followers of the accounts. According to a 2015 white paper by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), heads of state in 28 out of 34 OECD countries operate a Twitter account, and 21 out of 34 operate a !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 Statista, Social Media Usage in the United States (2017). 4 Id. at 3. 5 Jacob R. Strauss & Matthew E. Glassman, Social Media in Congress: The Impact of Electronic Media on Member Communications Congressional Research Service (2016). 6 Id. at 7.

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! 4 Facebook account. 7 "Presence and activity on social media is no longer a matter of choice for most governments as these platforms are used by large parts of the population and both for mal and informal interest groups ," 8 the report notes. The number of people who access government officials and entities through these accounts is steadily rising, while monitoring the sites for news and information is now routine for some people in the U nited States and abroad As a result, many users believe they have a legal right to access content posted on the social media a ccounts of government officials and that this right is protected by the First Amendment. The right of access is advocated by individuals who were blocked by government officials after making negative or critical statements about the m H olders of blocked account s are unable to post statement s in response Individuals subjected to these blocks allege this violates their First Amendment right of free speech, as well as the right to petition government officials Additionally, plaintiffs contend that no due process is afforded in banning as there is no method of appeals and rarely is an explanation provided to those who have been deprived of their access to the accounts Multiple lawsuits have been filed by individuals who were blocked by government officials on social media sites Most notably, ongoing legal action continues to affect United States presidents, governors, and other public officials, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 7 A. Mickoleit, Social Media Use by Governments: A Policy Primer to Discuss Trends, Identify Policy Opportunities and Guide Decision Makers, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 26, OECD Publishing, Paris, (201 6). 8 Id. at 36.

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! 5 alleging First Amendment violations through improper use of social media accounts. The p laintiffs rely on a core First Amendment argume nt that the social media account s and related comment areas and discussion boards of government entit ies and officials constitute public fora and that they have been blocked because of an opposing viewpoint. There are five core cases that merit analysis i n their respective legal context. First is the settled case Hawaii Defense Foundation v. City and County of Honolulu (2010) and the ongoing case of Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump (2017) Alleging a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech, Hawaii Defense Foundation was filed on behalf of two individuals who made comments on the public Facebook page of the Honolulu Police Department (HPD). After numerous comments were deleted by HPD, n o explanation o r reinstatement options were provided, and the plaintiffs were permanently blocked by HPD employees responsible for the administration of the page. The plaintiffs argue d that the Facebook page was an open public forum and t heir profiles were blocked because of viewpoint discrimination A key aspect of the Hawaii Defense Foundation case is the lack of any governing policy regarding HPD's social media page, and the Knight First Amendment Institute case echoes the same flaw. Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump was filed in July 2017 on behalf of six plaintiffs whose Twitter accounts were blocked from viewing President Trump's Twitter feed after making negative comments On the grounds of public forum doctrine, t he lawsuit al leges the account's administrators Donald Trump,

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! 6 White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino, and former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer have blocked plaintiffs unconstitutionally Singling out the individual plaintiffs is an act of viewpoint discrimina tion, illegal under the First Amendment. The thesis addresses the lack of appropriate government policy re g arding social media accounts, the crucial aspect of Knight First Amendment Institute and Hawaii Defense Foundation cases. The argument focuses on viewpoint discrimination and the government's role in infringing upon First Amendment rights. Three further cases speak to government speech doctrine as a defense, where each official maintained a social media policy, but plaintiffs nonetheless allege a First Amendment violation. Plaintiff Brian Davison a Virginia resident, sued James Plowman, Loudoun County, Virginia's official attorney in 2017 in Davison v. Plo wman Davison alleges he was blocked from the attorney's official government Facebook page after a series of comments he made on a post. However, Virginia maintains a reasonably detailed social media policy statewide, and Davi son's comment was clearly off topic, as defined in the rules. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled against Davison, concluding that Loudoun County did not violate the First Amendment rights of Davison,

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! 7 citing Child Evangelism Fellowship of MD, Inc. v. M ontgomery County Public Schools : [t]he government may restrict access to discussion of certain topic s, subject to two limitations: the government restrictions must be both reasonable and viewpoint neutral. 9 Establishment of policy is also reflected in the 2017 case of Leuthy v. LePage The ACLU of Maine sued on behalf of two plaintiffs who allege their access to Governor Paul LePage's Facebook was permanently revoked after makin g similarly negative statements. They argue that viewpoint d iscrimination was again at play and illegal in public fora. An ongoing case, the plaintiffs demand restoration of their posting privileges and seek permanent injunctive relief preventing Governor LePage from censoring other viewpoints. 10 Finally, in Laurenson v. Hogan 11 four plaintiffs allege their First Amendment rights were infringed despite the existence of a social media policy use d by Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland. Negative comments were deleted from an extensive comment stream, and the lawsuit alleges Governor Hogan and his staff to be responsible. Settled in April 2018, Governor Hogan admitted no wrongdo ing and agreed to re write his office's social media policy. Put simply, plainti ffs carry the burden of demonstrating that social media accounts established by government officials are indeed public fora If they constitute public fora then the viewpoint neutral ity doctrine may apply. However, a !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 9 Child Evangelism Fellowship of MD, Inc. v. Montgomery Cnty. Pub. Sch., 457 F.3d 376, 383 (4 th Cir. 2006) 10 1:17 cv 00296 (2017). 11 Laurenson v. Hogan No. 8:17 cv 02162 DKC (D Md 2017).

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! 8 counterargument exist s namely, that although set up by government officials, the accounts are exempt from such regulation due to the government speech doctrine. However, a flexible interpretation of the g overnment speech doctrine allows an exemption free from First Amendment strictures and permits the government to freely discriminate against viewpoints with which it disagrees 12 As recognized by the U .S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 2013, the First Amendment a l lows an official to deny an encounter with an individu al at a meeting h e ld on private property. 13 In 1983, the U .S. Supreme Court recognized in Perry Educ ation Associatio n v. Perry Local Educ ators' Association 14 that an official can ignore an individual conversation in a public park, a location traditionally recognized as a public forum. In brief, persuasive con stitutional arguments exist on both sides of the lawsuits involving blocking of social media accounts by government officials. T his thesis explore s the precedents and reasoning that might lead to a sound conclusion on the matter. To do this, the thesis examines several timely cases that allege constitutional violations based on social medi a blocking, taking into account the arguments of officials who seek to dismiss such claims. Ultimately, the thesis answer s the research question by making a case not only for protecting the rights of individual citizens but also to afford government officials limited protections that have been carved out by the judiciary. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 12 Joseph Blocher, Viewpoint Neutrality and Government Speech 52 B.C. L. Rev. (2011). 13 Kalfus v. New York & Presbyterian Hosp., 476 F. Appx 877, 879, (2d Cr. 2012) 14 460 U.S. 37 (1983).

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! 9 Part I review s freedom of speech arguments and core cases that allege constitutional violation s, and it summarizes the arguments of the plaintiffs seeking relief. Part II th en examines the arguments in favor of the plaintiffs, namely the public forum doctrine and viewpoint discrimination Next, Part III assesses the merits of government speech doctrine and its general defense. Part IV examines the weight of both arguments, and demonstrates an appropriate conclusion, in attempting to answer the research question. Finally the thesis concludes by briefly reviewing the argument s and providing a perspective on the future of the First Amendment right to access social media.

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! 10 I. F REE S PEECH B ACKGROUND The purpose of the Fi rst Amendment, according to the United States Supreme Court in Roth v. United States is to "[a]ssure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people." 15 First Amendment protections have bee n reinforced through several Supreme Court decisions, with political speech bei ng give n the utmost safeguards In Mills v. Alabama the Supreme Court invalidated an Alabama law criminalizing election day newspaper editorials the very heart of free political expression. Justice William Douglas wrote in his concurring opinion: [w]here F irst Amendment rights are jeopardized by a state prosecution which, by its very nature, threatens to deter others from exercising their First Amendment rights, a federal court will take the extraordinary step of enjoining the state prosecution. 16 Justice D ouglas felt that if such crucial rights were threatened by state prosecution and a subsequent chilling effect, the Court should step in to prevent frivolous legal action. The chilling effect is another important part of free speech debate. According to Pro fessor Frederick Schauer: A chilling effect occurs when individuals seeking to engag e in activity protected by the First A mendment are deterred from so doing by !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 15 354 U.S. 476 484 (1957). 16 384 U.S. 214, 218 219 (1966).

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! 11 governmental regulation not specifically directed at that protected activity. 17 First introduced by Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter in his concurrence in Wieman v. Updegraff 18 Justice Frankfurter described the chilling effect to be the result of "unwarranted inhibition" 19 on the speech of classroom teachers, subsequently intimi dating the topics an instructor may cover. This effect is prevalent in cases where social media users are afraid to make critical statements, as there may be retaliation and blockage from government officials. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 17 Frederick S c hauer, Fear, Risk and the First Amen dment: Unraveling the Chilling Effect, Faculty Publications, William and Mary, Paper 879 (1978). 18 344 U.S. 183 195 (1952). 19 Id at 195.

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! 12 II. I N F AVOR OF THE P LAINTIFF In order to arrive at a reasoned conclusion on constitutional grounds, one must understand the arguments that establish the importance of social media fora This part examines the c ases that plaintiffs have filed and presents their findings. In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that social media are becoming the dominant form of communication In the Opinion of the Court, Justi ce Anthony Kennedy wrote in Packingham v. N orth Carolina that Facebook and Twitter are [ p ] erhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen t o make his or her voice heard." 20 Packingham addressed a North Carolina statute that forbade registered sex offenders fro m accessing social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The Court held t he law unconstitutional. In doing so, it addressed growing concer ns of First Amendment law and its application to social media: A fundamental principle of the First Amendment is that all persons have access to places where they can speak and listen, and then, after reflection, speak and listen once more. The Court has sought to protect the right t o speak in this spatial context While in the past there may have been difficulty in identifying the most important places (in a spatial sense) for the exchange o f views, today the answer is clear. It is !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 20 137 S. Ct. 1730 1738 (2017).

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! 13 cyberspace the vast democratic forums of the Internet' in general, and social media in particular. 21 The Court addressed the necessity of social media, clarifying its purpose in accessing government officials: "[o ]n Twitter, users can petition their elected representatives and otherwise engage with them in a direct manner. Indeed, Governors in all 50 States and almost every Member of Congress have set up accounts for this purpose." 22 The Court's Packingham opinion d emonstrates the importance of social media access to engage politically with one another, strongly supporting those who allege First Amendment violations. T wo legal doctrines are at the core of this debate in favor of the Plaintiffs : a) The Public Forum Doctrine ; and b) Viewpoint Discrimination Each doctrine has criteri a that must be strictl y met and deviations from these protections undergo strict scrutiny, which requires the government to prove a regulation is justified by a compelling interest and that no more speech than is necessary to serve that interest is regulated In terms of social media, the government must show that there was a compelling interest in the removal of the comment, and that the action taken to remove the comment o r block the account is narrowly tailored around that specific interest. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 21 Id. at 4. 22 Id. at 5.

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! 14 It is of note that a public forum does not need to be a p hysical place, as determined in Rosenbe rger v. Univ ersity of V irginia 23 An important religious free speech case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the University of Virginia withholding funds from a Christian newspaper was unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination because of the speaker's specific motivating ideology, opinion, or perspective." 24 A forum can be established in a number of venues designed for public use, and jurisprudence shows that social media accounts are no exception. Rosenberger reiterates the neutrality that is required in public fora In this section, the th esis analyzes each doct r ine and its corresponding arguments, and it review s substantial cases to date that address social media accounts on these grounds. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 23 515 U.S. 819 (1995). 24 Id. at 820.

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! 15 A. T HE P UBLIC F ORUM D OCTRINE A traditional public forum is a place where speech and debate generally cannot be restricted based upon the subject matter or topic at issue a public park, a sidewalk, and other areas for public use. Justice Sandra Day O'Conn or described in Cornelius v. NAACP an early public forum and free speech case: "[a] public forum may be created by government designation of a place or channel of communication for use by the public at large for assembly and speech." 25 The public forum doctrine is commonly embraced by the Supreme Court. The Court recognize s that traditional public fora "[h]ave immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questionsfrom ancient times. 26 In addit ion to traditional public fora such as streets, parks and sidewalks, government entities can create other fora known as limited public for a. These areas serve a limited purpose, where a space may be available for certain groups discussing certain topics but the g overnment reserves the right to limit the use of the space. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 25 Cornel ius v. NAACP Legal Def. & Educ. Fund, Inc., 473 U.S. 788 802 (1985). 26 Norman T. Deutsch, Does Anybody Really Need a Limited Public Forum ?, 82 St. John's L. Rev., (2012)

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! 16 "Long standing First Amendment doctrine p e rmits the state to regulate speech and expressionbut the state bears a high burden of drawing the constitutionally appropriate line." 27 The limited pub lic forum generally allows a discussion of selected topics, such as a city council meeting addressing community issues. [a] speaker may be excluded from a nonpublic forum if he wishes to address a topic not encompassed within the purpose of the forum or h e is not a member of the class of speakers for whose especial benefit the forum was created 28 The designation of limited is favored in the government s defense, arguing that public officials maintain the right to block individual followers who violate certain r ules. However, Justice Anthony Kennedy, a moderate, has taken issue with this definition in the context of the public forum doctrine, opining that the free exchange of ideas is "[a] most doubtful fictionthe purpose for the creation of public parks may be as much for beauty and open space as for discourse." 29 With 213 mil lion users in the United States alone Facebook is one of the world's largest social media companies An account is free, requires little information, and can be accessed an unlimited number of times, provided it r emains active. For these reasons, many gov ernment officials maintain Facebook and !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 27 John D. Inazu, The First Amendment's Public Forum, 56 Wm. & Mary L. Rev., 1159 1187 (2015). 28 Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense Fund, 473 U.S. 788, 806 (1985). 29 Int'l Soc. For Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Lee, 505 U.S. 672, 697 (1992) (Kennedy, J., concurring)

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! 17 Twitter as place s where constituents can stay up to date with relevant information from the official, and can make public posts with their thoughts and concerns. Beginning in 2012 a series of lawsuits was filed nat ionwide against government entities alleging civil rights violations, based on public forum doctrine. Perhaps the best known case introducing this debate was Hawaii Defense Foundation v. City and County of Honolulu 30 In the case, Plaintiffs Christopher Baker and Derek Scammon posted comments critical of the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) on the official Facebook page of the Honolulu Police Department ," a page that stated it was "a forum open to the public." Their comments were deleted without explanation, and the plaintiffs were banned from all further participation in the forum. Having expressly created an open forum, the HPD need ed to overcome the aforementioned strict scrutiny standard of review to justify eliminating an individual 's viewpo int. Additionally, HPD admitted that there are no governing policies in regard to the administration or management of their Facebook page 31 Due to the arbitrary nature of the comment deletion policy, the plaintiffs were able to settle the case, arguably creating the first public forum standard for a social media site. Following the case's resolution the City and County of Honolulu develop ed a new comment p olicy for the HPD site eliminating the unpredicta ble nature of commen t deletion. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 30 No. 1:2012 cv 00469 (D. Hawaii 2012). 31 Id. at 8.

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! 18 Subsequent cases also contend that a public forum is established on social media accounts. One o f the most newsworthy is the ongoing case of Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump 32 The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sued on behalf of seven plaintiffs who allege simi lar First Amendment violations as their access to the personal Twitter account of President Donald Trump @realDona ldTrump was permanently blocked. The Plaintiffs argue that the manner in which the Twitter account is used by the p resident and his staff creates a public forum under the First Amendment. Through the @realDonaldTrump, @POTUS, and @ WhiteHouse Twitter accounts, Trump am assed over 33 million followers at the time of the suit. According to the complaint: Defendants have promoted the President's Twitter account as a key channel for official communication. Defendants use the account to make formal announcements, defend the President's official actions, report on meetings with foreign leaders, and promote the administration's positions on health care, immigration, foreign affairs, and other matters. The President's advisors have stated that tweets from @realDonaldTrump are o fficial statements,' and they have been treated as such by politicians, world leaders, the National Archive s and Records Administration, and federal courts. 33 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 32 No. 1:17 cv 05205 (S.D.N.Y. 2017) 33 Id. at 15.

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! 19 The p laintiffs alleg e that their blockage from the p resident's account is the result of posting critical comments, and that they were targeted on the sole ground s of viewpoint. The p laintiffs provide myriad examples of the paramount importance of the statements m ade through the Twitter account and their e ffects on both domestic and foreign affairs. The complaint alleges that m ultiple times each day, the p resident uses the account to : announce, describe, and defend his policies; to promote his Administration's legislative agenda, to announce official decisions; to engage with foreign political leaders; to publicize state visits; and to challenge media organizations who coverage of his Administration he believes to be unfair. 34 Furthermore, the National Archives and Records Administration has advised th e White House that Trump's tweets from @realDonaldTrump, like those from @POTUS, are official records that must be preserved under the Presidential Records Act. The very public nature of social media posts creates a compelling argument for a First Amendmen t right to access the account on the grounds of a public forum. 35 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 34 Id. at 14. 35 Id. at 2.

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! 20 B. V IEWPOINT D ISCRIMINATION The second major argument that the First Amendment is violated involves discrimination based on viewpoint. Viewpoint neutrality is at the core of the First Amendment. "Government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content." 36 Justice Antonin Scalia concurred in R.A.V. vs. City of Saint Paul: "The government may not regulate speech based on hostilit y or favoritism towards the underlying message expressed." 37 R.A.V. addressed a Saint Paul Minnesota ordinance criminalizing the placement of certain traditionally hateful symbols. The Supreme Court found the law to be vague and unconstitutional, violating the right to freedom of expression. Justice Scalia's succinct summary of viewpoint discrimination underscores the importance of preventing the government from infringing upon a private viewpoint. Justice Anthony Kennedy, concurring with the Court's decis ion in Matal v. Ta m further addressed the paramount importance of protection from viewpoint discrimination: [v]iewpoint discrimination a form of speech suppression so potent that it must be subject to rigorous constitutional scrutinyThe First Amendment's viewpoint neutrality principle protects more than the right to identify with a particular side. It protects the right to create and present arguments for particular positions in particular ways, as !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 36 Chicago Police Dept. v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92 95 (1972). 37 505 U.S. 377 386 (1992).

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! 21 the speaker chooses. By mandating positivity, the law her e might silence dissent and distort the marketplace of ideas. 38 Justice Kennedy's affirmation of First Amendment protections demonstrate s the Court's desire to maintain a strong safety net for free speech and avoid any chilling effect that may come from government infringement. Matal addressed speech a potentially disparaging title : "The Slants" being trademarked, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that trademarks are private speech not government speech Concluding his opinion, Kennedy writes : "[o]ur re liance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society." 39 The p r ecarious nature of categorizing viewpoint based discrimination continues to come under fire in many First Amendment cases. The 2017 federal district court case of Davison v. Plowman 40 involved this pivotal point. Plaintiff Brian Davison, a resident of Loudoun County, Virginia, sued James Plowman in his official capacity as the attorney for Loudoun County, Virginia. Davison alleged that a lengthy comment he made in December 2015 on an official Facebook post of Plowman was deleted and that his access to the page was blocked because of his role in a previous controversy with the county In 2014, Davison was involved in an alarming d ispute with Loudoun County Public Schools escalating to the point where he was banned from the grounds of his children's school. During a related hearing, Davison believed he heard testimony that constituted perjury, and he went to the official Facebook pa ge of the Loudoun !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 38 137 S. Ct. 1744, 1775 (2017) (Kennedy, J., concurring) 39 Id. at 8. 40 247 F. Supp.3d 767 (2017).

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! 22 County Attorney to vent his concerns. His comment, al though unrelated to the Facebook post, excoriated the Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney's Office. Due to the Commonwealth Attorney's close governmental proximity with the Public Sch ools, Davison alleged that his comment and access to the page was blocked because of his previous problems with the school district. Davison argued that this lack of access to the Facebook page directly violated his right to petition the government as guaranteed by the First Amendment. D i strict Court Jud ge Cacheris ruled that this did not vi o late the plaintiff' s First Amendment rights writing: The restriction on speech deemed clearly off topic' in the original Social Media Comments Policy was reasonably related indeed, integral to the forum's purpose The failure to effectively moderate a public discussion may be as deleterious to dialogue in such a forum as censorship. 41 Another ongoing case is Leuthy v. LePage 42 The ACLU of Maine sued Governor of Maine Paul LePage, alleging viewpoint discrimination in the case of two plaintiffs who were blocked from the os tensibly official Facebook page: "Paul LePage, Maine's Governor The complaint alleges that the Facebook page was subject to a social media policy established by Maine's O ffice of Information Technology. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 41 Id. at 16 17. 42 1:17 cv 00296 ( D. Me. 2017).

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! 23 That policy provides, in pertinent part, that: Any scandalous, libelous, defamatory, or pornographic material, if posted, is removed as soon as discovered. Agenci es must create and publish a Terms of Comment which describes how the Agency will manage user contributions to the extent allowed by the Social Media site/application. The Terms of Comment shall detail the review criteria for acceptable comments, such as o n topic, non duplicative, not obscene or offensive etc. 43 The comments made by the plaintiffs allegedly did not meet the criteria for deletion under the official policy, 44 but were nonetheless deleted. What is unique about the LePage case is its defense that the Facebook page "Paul LePage, Maine's Governor" is not government run. Following the ACLU complaint, the Facebook page published a statement in its defense: To be clear this page was started by volunteers in the Governor's firs t campaign to support his candidacy. After that time it became his official political page. This page has never been managed by taxpayer funded state employees. Under the about section of this Facebook page it states that is Paul LePage's official politici an page not a government page. 45 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 43 Id. at 12. 44 Id. at 13. 45 Paul LePage, Maine's Governor, https://www.facebook.com/mainesgov/posts/10156468873414676 (last visited April 9, 2018).

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! 24 Although involving ap parent viewpoint discrimination similar to that of the Davison Knight First Amendment Institute and Hawaii Defense Found ation cases, there are two discrepancies in the LePage argument. First, the comments made by the plaintiffs did not constitute a violation of Maine's social media policy. Second, and perhaps more importantly, "Paul LePage, Maine's Governor" is not administered by any government official. This may eliminate the complaint against the governor's office, as the page began as a place for fans to congregate, not to serve as an official outlet. While the plaintiffs may have standing to sue if the page is determined to be officially administered, they may lack further recourse if it is simply a fan administered page. This raises another argument : Does the appearance of an official page allow for damages to be sought? This is the first instance of such a conflict in this ty pe of social media based action and any future decisions will be important precedent. Regardless of what the District Court of Maine's findings may be, the binding tie among these cases is the existence of an overarching social media policy Davison shows that the entire state of Virgin ia maintains a social media policy outlining the criteria for comment deletion, and the same is true for LePage These policies appear to grant a limited degree of protection to the government institutions. F orthcoming o pinions on the matter should clarify the impact of such disclaimers.

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! 25 III. G OVERNMENT S PEECH D OCTRINE & D EFENSES O ne of the most effective defense s for government agencies thus far is the government speech doctrine. Although still developing the government speech doctrine allow s the government to disseminate a given message that ostensibly is its official position The doctrine was first articulated in the 5 4 decision of Rust v. Sullivan 46 which addressed whether a government prohibition on speech regard in g abortion at subsidized family planning clinics violated free speech rights under the First Amendment The Supreme Court held it did not. One of the key points in the decision was recognition that there was no "direct state interference with a protected activity." Rather, the speech ban was seen as consonant with legislative policy." In simplest terms, the government forbidding the use of taxpayer funds for abortion material was concomitant with the then current administration's agenda, and was not interferi ng with any constitutional right it was only outlining the proper use of federal dollars Rust represents the right of the government to protect its speech on matters of public interest, and allows the government to reasonably present its positio n on a variety of matters. As restated in Rosenberger : "If the government is going to be able to disseminate any messages at all, it must be able to control what its agents say." 47 Rust definitively showed that even if government speech occurs through a third party, it will nonetheless be considered the position of the government. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 46 500 U.S. 173 (1991). 47 Rosenberger v. Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819 833 (1995).

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! 26 This view of message approval by the government is the point where the defense to a message will change from a public forum argument to government speech doctrine. T he doctrine is f urther e x plained in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum : "If the government exercises approval authority in creating a message, the government can pick and choose among private speakers that it will support based on vague criteria." 48 Summum decided a Utah debate over the placement of religious monuments on public land. The municipality of Pleasant Grove placed a statue of the Ten Commandments on public property. The Summum Church, a religious sect, argued that placement of its own statue on public grounds should similarly allowed but the Court disagreed. Justice Alito, author of the unanimous opinion, wrote that allowing one type of monument while disallowing another was constitution al ; rather, Pleasant Grove was exercisi ng government speech by putting the Ten Commandments on display. Summum recognized the importance of government acceptance of a message as the capstone point for government speech. Summum also established three factors that are generally used to show gover nment speech: history, perception, and control. According to First A mendment scholar Lyrissa Lidsky "Constraints on government speech come not from the First Amendment's free speech clause but rather from the political process, with voters or other political actors ostensibly checking' government speech (and government actions) with which they disagree." 49 This analysis of the government's position shows that the ability of the government !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 48 555 U.S. 460 (2009). 49 Lyrissa B. Lidsky, Government Sponsored Social Media and Public Forum Doctrine under the First Amendment: Perils and Pitfalls, 19 Univ. of Fla. Pub. Law. 2 (2011).

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! 27 to speak and interact is ultimately in the hands of the people. As part of the d emocratic values that are responsible for public officials in the United States, an individual can be voted out of office in a subsequent election cycle if the people do not agree with the government's position.

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! 28 A. K NIGHT F IRST A MENDMENT I NSTITUTE V T RUMP : G OVERNMENT S PEECH AS D EFENSE In Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump President Trump and his co defendants raise the government speech doctrine as a key defense to accusations of First Amendment violations. Recognizing that a vital component of the Plaintiffs' argument rests on the grounds of public forum doctrine, the Defendants immediately contend that the two essenti al components establish ing a forum do not apply to Trump's Twitter account. "To qualify as a forum,' the space in question must meet two requirements: it must be government owned (or government controlled), and the government must have opened up th e space for private parties to [ c ] ommunicate ideas to others If either of these attributes is lacking, forum analysis does not apply. 50 Additionally, Defendants cite Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense Fund for the proposition that "The government does not create a public forum by inaction or by permitting limited discourse, but only by intentionally opening a nontraditional forum for public discourse." 51 If the government has not established a public forum through its use of social media, then much of the Plaintiffs' argument is void. If the government were in either charge of, or owned Twitter, then it would clearly constitute a forum However, this is not the case. The p resident lacks the ability to control the comment threads that follow his tweets, and the Plaintiffs agree that Trump cannot alter any of the content posted, nor can he prevent a blocked user !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 50 Def.'s Me mo at 14, Knight v. Trump (2017). 51 473 U.S. 788 802 (1985).

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! 29 from participating in comment threads. Further the information presented on the president's account is still publicly availab le on the page, and he has not denied access to this page to any user. Decisions regarding who may create an account, post, reply, and retweet on the platform are made by Twitter as a private company and are far beyond the reach of any government official.

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! 30 B. D AVISON V P LOWMAN : G OVERNMENT S PEECH AS D EFENSE Justice Kennedy addressed the importance of control of government message s in his concurrence in Tam writing: "[t]he Court's precedents have recognized just one narrow situation in which viewpoint discrimination is permissible: where the government itself is speakingThe exception is necessary to allow the government to stake out positions and pursue policies." 52 When Plaintiff Brian Davison was blocked from the official Facebook page of the Attorney General for Loudoun County, he asserted that this was a discriminatory viewpoint based decision. However, a crucial aspect of government speech doctrine p r ovides a defense for the Virginia county. Those in charge of the Facebook page adopted the social media policy that was deemed acceptable across the entire state. The social media policy clearly demonstrated that the County reserved the right to "delete submissions" that viola ted the enumerated rules. The Plaintiff's comment was a lengthy piece that addressed personal issues with the Attorney General's office, and was entirely irrelevant to the posted article which focused on special prosecutors. The policy allowed for the dele tion of the comment, as it was clearly off topic It is essential that the social media accounts of public officials maintain both a certain decorum and relevance and do not allow interactive conversation s to dominate their accounts. This necessity is jus tified through the government speech !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 52 Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744 1774 (2017) (Kennedy, A., concurring)

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! 31 doctrine as public official s have a reasonable expectation to disseminate their own views and exercise control over their social media account s

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! 32 C. G OVERNMENT D EFENSE : F IRST A MENDMENT A CCESS A further crucial element defending the government's actions is a concise explanation of the plaintiffs' failure to establish a violation of the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. In Knight v. Trump the plaintiffs allege that th eir individual account blockage by the president direct ly violates their rights however, it is the government's position that this is incorrect. The individual accounts of the plaintiffs are free to engage in discourse about the president on their personal accounts, and retain the ability to reply not only to the @POTUS and @WhiteHouse accounts, but they can also mention @realDonaldTrump in their comment threads. Plaintiffs can still freely express their thoughts on Twitter and face no repercussions Additionally, there is no First Amendment right to have information delivered in a certain manner. As laid out in Sample v. Bureau of Prisons federal agencies are only required to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests in "readily reproducible" forms. 53 Therefore, this does not require an information response on the Twitter platform. The relevant information that is published on the account remains publicly accessible on its generic link, and grants unlimited access to Twitter users. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 53 466 F.3d 1086 1088 (D.C. Cir. 2006).

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! 33 According to the Defendants' Memo in Knight : [h ]e can decide not to take photos with supporters, and therefore wave away anyone who expresses agreement with his views, and he can refrain from engaging with constituents that he knows to be unpleasant critics, reasoning that there are better uses of his ti me. If someone ignored by a public official under these kinds of circumstances tried to bring a lawsuit, he would lose. Even if a court were to conclude that the daily choices an elected official makes about whom to interact with are state action, the Firs t Amendment would not constrain these choices. 54 I n Minnesota Board for Community Colleges v. Knight the U.S. Supreme Court held individual campus faculty represented by a labor organization could not force the state wide body to hold meetings to listen t o individual grievances. Justice John Paul Stevens opined : "It is inherent in the republican form of government that high officials may choose in their own wisdom and at their own peril to listen to some of their constituents and not to others." 55 It is thi s very thought that some government officials on Twitter and Facebook follow. A willing conversation in the physical world always requires mutual consent, and precedent shows the same may be true for officials on social media. Individuals, even when organized as a whole, may not mandate that government officials address their individual concerns. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 54 Def.'s Memo at 13 14, Knight v. Trump (2017). 55 465 U.S. 271 285 (1984).

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! 34 Returning to Packingham Justice Alito in his concurring opinion, succinctly explained that the Court was perhaps too glowing in its judgme nt of the Internet's impor tance: I cannot join the opinion of the Court, however, because of its undisciplined dicta. The Court is unable to resist musings that seem to equate the entirety of the internet with public streets and parksThe Court should be more attentive to the impl ications of its rhetoric for, contrary to the Court's suggestion, there are important differences between cyberspace and the physical world. 56 Justice Alito's distaste for public forum equity between the Internet and physical places is important in the defe nse of the government's perspective. Alito maintains this conservative perspective in f urther opinions, as he wrote in the Court's opinion in Summum : "[i]t is hard to imagine how a public park could be opened up for the installation of permanent monuments by every person or group wishing to engage in that form of expression." 57 Such a principle can be applied in the government's defense. Social media accounts allow for unfettered instant access to officials, and sifting through which posts shall be deemed worthy of a response is an implausible task. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 56 Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S. Ct. 1730 1744 (2017). (Alito, J., concurring) 57 Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460 476 (2009).

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! 35 The government, despite its power derived from the people, cannot be expected to make an individualized respon se to each query from a post. Although social media pages are used to disseminate information to a multitude of constituents, it is not their primary purpose to engage on an individual level. Additionally, when there are written rules that dictate proper d ecorum in an online environment, a user should assume that following such rules is simply the first step in soliciting a response.

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! 36 IV H OW D O THE D OCTRINES P REVAIL ? Creation of a public forum one that is open to the masses meant for discourse, and discriminates against n o viewpoint is a complex matter, and continues to be open for litigation. Furthermore, through the assertion of government speech doctrine, there can be ca ses that allow officials to discriminate on occasio n. To re state the question: How do the free speech doctrines of viewpoint discrimination, public forum, and government speech affect the First Amendment right to access the social media accounts of government officials? The examined cases show that the First Amendment right to access these accounts remains, and government speech doctrine provides minimal rationale for eliminating problematic comments. While the First Amendment may have its limits in terms of obscenity, defamation, and fighting words, the utmost protections are afforded to political speech. Writing a post on a government official's social media account that may offer a critique or disagreement should not warrant outright banishment because criticisms shou ld be expected by any public official. By esta blishing a Facebook profile or a Twitter account, government officials have created a limited public forum that is open for discussion among the greater public and their representatives. Although the limited p ublic forum has a certain range and scope, the government must not discriminate against viewpoint or opposing opinion.

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! 37 The unifying factor and Achilles' heel of the Hawaii Defense Foundation and Knight First Amendment Institute case s is the individual deletion of posts that are critical of the office. This is an important distinction, as it appears that viewpoint discrimination is the singular explanation for the blocking. Plaintiffs' posts did not invoke any fighting words, nor any obscene depictions, and did not effectively defame any of the named parties. These examples are clearly a sweeping violation of established viewpoint discrimination precedent, and the courts are likely to rule in favor of the plaintiffs in both cases. Each of the individuals chose to make comments on posts they deemed relevant, clearly asserting their First Amendment right to speak out freely. Comments appear in trails numbering well into the thousands, and the act of singling out a few words for purposive deletion appears t o do no more than silence opposition. All purpose public figures have little recourse when it comes to negative statements sent their way. Conventional criticisms should come as no surprise to any politician, and eliminating them one by one only creates a pattern of discrimination. Conversely, the cases against Governor Hogan of Maryland, Governor LePage of Maine, and Loudoun County Attorney James Plowman represent the limited control that public officials may retain. Both Maryland and Virginia had widely adopted standards for use of social media accounts at the time the complaints were filed and reserve the right to delete comments that are in violation of the terms. Rulemaking of this type establishes the limited public forum where the government

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! 38 shall m aintain a certain decorum. Government speech doctrine grants officials protection over the proper use of their social media pages, but it is imperative that the governing social media policy is clearly defined. The importance of Rosenberger continues to show if the government is going to be able to disseminate any messages at all, it must be able to control what its agents say. Once it has opened a limited forum, the government must respect the lawful boundaries it has itself set. 58 At this intersection of First Amendment protections and necessity of government speech is the crux of the argument. Above all: "If the speech restricted falls outside the bounds of the designated forum, the Court need determine only whether the speech restriction applied is v iewpoint neutral and reasonable in light of the purpose of the forum." 59 U.S. District Court Judge James Cacheris outlined ap propriate guidelines in his Davison opinion : "[t]he Court must determine (1) whether Defendant's comment was, in fact, clearly off topic' i.e. whether it fell outside of the bounds of the forum and (2) if so, whether the clearly off topic' restriction was viewpoint neutral and reasonable in light of the purpose of the forum." 60 As the results of the Davison case illustrate when a pro per social media administration policy is in place, courts may side with the enacted policy thereby allowing officials to delete comments that violate it. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 58 Rosenberg er v. Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819, 829 (1995). 59 Warren v. Fairfax County 196 F.3d 186 192 (4 th Cir 1999 ). 60 Davison v. Plowman, 247 F. Supp.3d 14, (2017).

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! 39 In the case against President Trump however, there is no evidence that such a policy exists. T he courts should be expected to rule overwhelmingly in favor of First Amendment pro tections for the plaintiff In April 2018, First Amendment protections prevailed in Laurenson v. Hogan Despite admitting no liability, Governor Hogan settled the lawsuit for $65,000 and several chan ges to the social media policy. The original complaint alleged that Hogan's existing policy "exerts a profoundly chilling effect on speech and specifically censors constituents who petition' the Governorsuch a vague, ill defin ed policy is an open invitation in practice to arbitrary, viewpoint based censorship." 61 The new policy has clearly defined boundaries for acceptable content. A relevant excerpt from the policy: Comments may be removed if they contain, constitute, or link to: Profanity, nudity, indecency, or obscenity; threats of violence or to public safety; disruptively repetitive content; remarks that are clearly unrelated to governmental concerns 62 In addition to the amended social media policy, Governor Hogan's offic e also created an appeals process allowing blocked persons to submit a written statement to the Maryland Office of Correspondence & Constituent Services for consideration of reinstatement. This free speech victory should not be understated. There now exi sts a detailed social media policy appropriate for government officials that is in place to !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 61 Laurenson v. Hogan, No. 8:17 cv 02162 DKC 3. (D. Md., 2017). 62 Settlement Agreement at 8 9, Laurenson v. Hogan, No. 8:17 cv 02162 DKC 3. (D. Md., 2017).

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! 40 prevent further viewpoint discrimination in Maryland' s social media use. Most importantly, there is a clear mec hanism in place for individual s to appeal account blo ck age s and be afforded due process.

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! 41 C ONCLUSION The importance of social media in modern communication cannot be understated. The Roberts C ourt solidified the role of Facebook and Twitter in the Packingham decision, ensuring that future cases addressing Internet exchanges understand the significance of such platforms. The primary doctrine supporting the plaintiffs in each case is the existence of a public forum, which the government has established in the aforementioned cases. Facebook and Twitter provide citizens with essential news and information about their government representatives, and often expl icitly state their open objectives. A public forum may not discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, and thi s is why the First Amendment right to access the accounts must be upheld. The government speech d octrine, to which Justice Breyer referred to as a "rule of thumb, not a rigid category," 63 provide s a saf ety blanket to public officials when they eliminate comments based on improper conduct, rather than an opposing viewpoint. However, this exception is not a tru mp card for widespread deletion and it should be used sparingly to avoid allegations of impropriety. The recent decision in Laurenson v. Hogan demon strates that social media policies must be clearly laid out with a reasonable appellate process. The First Amendment protections for political speech are sacrosanct, and future cases will continue to reaffirm t heir constitutional significance But given that the most widely used platforms of Facebook and Twitter a re privately manag ed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 63 Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460, 483 (2009) (Breyer, J., concurring)

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! 42 companies, the door is open for private censorship to occur. This begs the question about potential government regulation of these platforms. If the courts are to prot ect the interactions among government officials and individual users, how might they ensure the neutrality of the platform? Future cases may investigate the plausibility of private platform regulation.

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! 43 R EFERENCES 1. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that some varieties of speech are not safeguarded by the First Amendment. See Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coal., 535 U.S. 234, 245 46 (2002) ("The freedom of speech has its limits; it does not embrace certain categories of speech, including defamation, incitement, obscenity, and pornography produced with real children.") 2. Leslie Gielow Jacobs, Clarifying the Content Based/Content Neutral and Content/Viewpoint Determinations, 34 McGeorge L. Rev. 595 (2003). 3. Statista, Social Media Usage in the United States (2017). 4. Jacob R. Strauss & Matthew E. Glassman, Social Media in Congress: The Impact of Electronic Media on Member Communications Congressional Research Service (2016). 5. Frederick S c hauer, Fear, Risk and the First Amendment: Unraveling the Chi lling Effect, Faculty Publications, William and Mary, Paper 879 (1978). 6. A. Mickoleit, Social Media Use by Governments: A Policy Primer to Discuss Trends, Identify Policy Opportunities and Guide Decision Makers, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 26, OECD Publishing, Paris, (2016). 7. Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957). 8. Mills v. Alabama 384 U.S. 214, 218 219 (1966). 9. Child Evangelism Fellowship of MD, Inc. v. Montgomery Cnty. Pub. Sch., 457 F.3d 376, 383 (4 th Cir. 2006) 10. Laurenson v. Hogan No. 8:17 cv 02162 DKC (D Md ., 2017). 11. Norman T. Deutsch, Does Anybody Really Need a Limited Public Forum ?, 82 St. John's L. Rev., (2012) 12. Joseph Blocher, Viewpoint Neutrality and Government Speech 52 B.C. L. Rev. (2011). 13. Kalfus v. New York & Presbyterian H osp., 476 F. Appx. 877, 879, (2d Cr. 2012) 14. Perry Educ. Ass'n v. Perry Local Educators' Ass'n, 460 U.S. 37 (1983). 15. Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S. Ct. 1730 (2017). 16. Rosenberger v. Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819 (1995).

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! 44 17. Hawaii Defense Found. v. City and County of Honolulu, No. 1:2012 cv 00469 (D. Hawaii, 2012). 18. Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183, 195 (1952). 19. Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump, No. 1:17 cv 05205 (S.D.N.Y., 2017) 20. Chicago Police Dept. v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92 (1972). 21. R.A.V. vs. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992). 22. Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744 (2017). 23. John D. Inazu, The First Amendment's Public Forum, 56 Wm. & Mary L. Rev., 1159 (2015). 24. Davison v. Plowman, 247 F. Supp.3d 767 (2017). 25. Leuthy v. LePage, 1:17 cv 00296 (2017). 26. Paul LePage, Maine's Governor, https://www.facebook.com/mainesgov/posts/10156468873414676 (last visited April 9, 2018). 27. Int'l Soc. For Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Lee, 505 U.S. 672, 697 (1992) (Kennedy, J., concurring) 28. Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991). 29. Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460 (2009). 30. Lyrissa B. Lidsky, Government Sponsored Social Media and Public Forum Doctrine under the First Amendment: Perils and Pitfalls, 19 Univ. of Fla. Pub. Law. 2 (2011). 31. Def.'s Memo at 14, Knight v. Trump (2017). 32. Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense Fund, 473 U.S. 788 (1985). 33. Sample v. Bureau of Prisons, 466 F.3d 1086 (D.C. Cir. 2006). 34. Minn. Board for Cmty. Colleges v. Knight, 465 U.S. 271 (1984). 35. Warren v. Fairfax County, 196 F.3d 186, 192 (4 th Cir. 1999).