Orange County D.A. Under Fire for Deleting Social Media Comments

Public officials’ growing reliance on social media as a communications tool has opened a Pandora’s box of legal and ethical questions. Now, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is becoming personally familiar with some of them.

The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Rackauckas Friday, demanding he stop deleting unwanted or unflattering comments on Facebook and Twitter. While the average Joe may have a right to control their timeline and feed, such filtering amounts to “unconstitutional censorship” when a public official is involved, the civil liberties group said.

And then the ACLU went a little further:

“As you surely know, by blocking those who have criticized you or your Office, you make it far more difficult for those individuals to engage with both your Office and others who use social media for the discussion of important topics, including your malfeasance.”

The D.A.’s office shrugged off any suggestion that Rackauckas has violated the law.

“The ACLU routinely attacks the Orange County District Attorney’s Office due to our aggressive pursuit of sexual offenders and gang members,” said Rackauckas’ spokesperson, Michelle Van Der Linden. “The OCDA remains committed to the business of putting criminals behind bars and keeping our residents, visitors, and members of the business community safe."

Who is right? Governing took a look at some of the legal questions surrounding public officials’ social media use in January. Check out the article here