Next to everyone has social media in today’s society, but it puts politicians in an odd situation. In 2017 there was a case in Virginia — Davison v. Loudoun County Board of Supervisors — where the federal court ruled that it is unlawful for elected officials to block any resident from their Facebook accounts because of “viewpoint discrimination.” But the account was a public account made for the elected official to connect with constituents as their elected official. Locally, Laurinburg Mayor Matthew Block has blocked people from his Facebook, causing many to claim he has broken federal law. Due to the account being used as a “tool for governance,” the liability fell to the board of supervisors — leading the city to potentially have some form of liability.
For current members of the Laurinburg City Council, it isn’t an overly concerning topic as it’s in the gray area of laws. “If there is a liability for the city, then I will be concerned,” said Councilmember James Garby. “I don’t know the statutes but I’m going to look into it now … it’s his personal Facebook page and it’s not up to me to police his account on what he’s doing.” While Councilmember Mary Evans added that she isn’t worried about it at this time because of it being in the middle ground. Federal law does say, however, that personal Facebook accounts being used to discuss government business would fall under the scope of the law and residents cannot be blocked.