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ACLU Sues Over Social Media Ordinance

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December 23, 2014 — Alex Brown, Network Indiana — The ACLU of Indiana has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the president of the South Bend Common Council over an ordinance which regulates what council members can post on their privately-run social media.

ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk says the ordinance violates the council members‘ First Amendment rights by placing extreme restrictions on what they can post on Facebook, Twitter, email and other electronic communications. He says the ordinance requires posts to be informative, accurate and not misleading.

It also requires that any mistakes posted on social media be timely corrected. Falk says the restrictions are vague and highly subjective. He says frequently, social media postings are not fact-based and often contain communications which are not verifiable.

The ordinance applies to both publicly-controlled and privately-run social media of council members, if a council member says that he or she is on the South Bend Common Council. Falk uses as an example a personal Facebook page controlled by Council President Oliver Davis on which he lists himself as a council member. He says the ordinance regulates what Davis can and cannot say as well as what people can and cannot post on the page.

Falk says they will be seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the ordinance from going into effect.

 

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