Supreme Court Sets New Standard for Public Officials’ Social Media Use and First Amendment Rights (CLM)

Supreme Court Sets New Standard for Public Officials’ Social Media Use and First Amendment Rights

  Thursday, April 11th, 2024 Source: CLM

In the landmark case Lindke v. Freed, the U.S. Supreme Court tackled the nuanced issue of when a public official’s actions on social media, such as deleting comments or blocking users, could be considered state action under the First Amendment.

The case centered around James Freed, Port Huron’s City Manager, who blocked Kevin Lindke from his Facebook page after Lindke posted critical comments. The Court established a two-pronged test to determine state action: the official must have the authority to speak on the public entity’s behalf and must use that authority in the contested speech.

This decision emphasizes the importance of context in distinguishing personal from official actions on social media, advising officials to clearly delineate their personal and official communications to protect both their rights and those of the public.

The ruling vacates a prior judgment and remands the case, highlighting the complexities of applying First Amendment protections in the digital era.

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