As governmental entities moved into the digital age and began using social media, they pushed out content to their citizens in hopes of educating and informing the public about items of interest. As this practice evolved, more and more agencies began allowing comments on some of these platforms like Facebook, on their blog page or even on their website. Public comments have become common for most agencies that engage with their community. In fact, it is a best practice taught by many social media experts.
What happens when the comments are laced with profanity or hate speech? What happens when the agencies platform is flooded with comments critical of the very agency allowing those comments?
These are good questions that have not been fully answered yet by the courts. However, there are some principles, guided by a ruling from the US Supreme Court, which shape this debate.