MARYLAND: GOP Gov Settles Lawsuit With ACLU, Must Stop Deleting/Blocking His Critics On Social Media

Ars Technica reports:

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan allegedly had a habit of blocking Facebook users and deleting comments when people criticized him, but a lawsuit has forced him to adopt a more open social media policy. Four Maryland residents sued the Republican governor in a US District Court in August 2017, with help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland. The ACLU announced yesterday that a settlement has been finalized, requiring Hogan to implement a new social media policy within two weeks. The state is also required to pay $65,000 to the plaintiffs.

“The ACLU lawsuit is one in a wave of high-profile cases across the country against elected officials charged with trying to silence constituents on social media—including one case brought against President Donald Trump for blocking constituents on Twitter,” the ACLU of Maryland said. The governor’s office can still block comments that link to or contain malware, ads, profanity, nudity, threats of violence, copyrighted materials, and confidential or private information, among other things. But any content removed must be retained for one year, giving users time to challenge the removal.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland said Monday the settlement was a “victory for the free speech rights of constituents.” But a spokeswoman for Hogan contested the advocacy group’s characterization of the agreement. “We are pleased that the ACLU has decided to drop this frivolous and politically motivated lawsuit and reach a settlement with the state,” said a Hogan spokeswoman, Shareese DeLeaver Churchill. “Ultimately, it was much better for Maryland taxpayers to resolve this than to continue wasting everyone’s time and resources in court.”

See the full ACLU reaction here.