Should public officials in Colorado be able to delete comments or ban people from their Facebook page?
Looks like we’re about to find out because a lawsuit was filed against Thornton Councilwoman Jan Kulmann claiming the constitutional rights of two local men were violated when she restricted their participation on her page.
The men’s lawyer is hoping the judge will follow a federal decision that ruled President Trump could not block Twitter users.
The problem in this case, and there are many, is one of the actual plaintiffs.
How can he be certain it was Kulmann and not Facebook that deleted his comments? If he used the phrase he is expressing in this photograph, Facebook will automatically delete his comments.
If someone so much as writes the word “damn” in a comment, Facebook automatically hides the comment unless the page manager turns off the profanity detection setting.
Kulmann doesn’t appear to be sensitive to criticism. After all, someone has already posted an article about this lawsuit on her page criticizing her.
This is Kulmann’s response:
Since there’s now a pending lawsuit I want to respect those that are concerned. However, I will say, I have not blocked any of my constituents. I have hidden inappropriate or insensitive comments from both sides of the issue.
Inappropriate and insensitive, that’s a nice way of saying someone was just being an asshole and using foul language.
It’s important to note that no members of the city council have an official Facebook page as part of their role with the city.
These comments were made on Kulmann’s campaign Facebook account, not a government page.
Technically, she’s leaving Facebook’s profanity blocker in place against potential voters, not necessarily constituents. And if she’s deleting harassing comments on her own personal campaign page, doesn’t she have that right?
Don’t we all have the right to delete unwanted comments on our own pages or business pages that are flat-out lies, libelous, harassing or littered with profanity?
Willmeng and his cohort weren’t even commenting about official city business, they were harassing her because of the personal view she expressed on a state issue coming before state voters — she doesn’t support Proposition 112, the backdoor fracking ban.
And another point, Willmeng is running for the Boulder County Commission, which makes him a fellow politician, and that’s different from being a constituent.
So by all means, bring on this lawsuit.
We don’t believe it is censorship because Willmeng is free to say whatever he wants about Kulmann on his own Facebook page or anywhere else in social media, and he’s free to speak his mind at council meetings.
But if he starts yelling and cussing and making a fool of himself instead of behaving in a civil manner, he might find himself escorted out of the room and not by the Facebook police, but the real deal.
He has the right to free speech, but does he have the right to yell fire in a crowded theater?