Chatham mayor faces backlash for blocking people on Facebook

Posted: Updated:

A Morris County mayor is facing backlash from the ACLU for blocking people from his Facebook posts.

The ACLU says that Chatham Township Mayor Curt Ritter blocked dozens of residents from commenting on public posts he made on Facebook, reportedly on the topic of bear hunting.

Ritter later unblocked them, but an attorney for the ACLU called it “unconstitutional censorship on Facebook.”

The organization sent Ritter a warning letter this week that said in part, “as long as you use your personal social media site at least in part for official mayoral business, you should not block persons from access or commenting.”

“We are in a new frontier and President [Donald] Trump’s use of Twitter has propelled us a couple of light years into the frontier,” says First Amendment attorney Bruce Rosen.

Rosen says that he has spoken with many people who have made complaints against public officials who have “shut them off” from Facebook or Twitter. There are several similar cases making their way through the courts.

The courts are now questioning whether deleting comments is a violation of civils rights, both for President Trump and other politicians.

“If somebody just said ‘expletive, expletive, expletive, expletive,’…is that a viewpoint discrimination? Some might say it is, but I don’t think it really is,” Rosen says.

Ritter did not respond to News 12 New Jersey’s request for comment.

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