social media

Alexandra Kanik

An emerging debate about whether elected officials violate people’s free speech rights by blocking them on social media is spreading across the U.S. as groups sue or warn politicians to stop the practice.

The American Civil Liberties Union this week sued Maine Gov. Paul LePage and sent warning letters to Utah’s congressional delegation. It followed recent lawsuits against the governors of Maryland and Kentucky and President Donald Trump.

J. Tyler Frankin

The ACLU of Kentucky is suing Gov. Matt Bevin for blocking people on Facebook and Twitter, saying the governor is violating the free speech rights of his constituents.

The challenge was filed on behalf of two Kentucky residents who say they have been “permanently blocked from engaging in political speech” on the governor’s official social media pages.

J. Tyler Franklin

The ACLU has asked Kentucky's Republican governor to stop blocking people from following his social media accounts.

The Courier-Journal reports the ACLU sent a letter to Gov. Matt Bevin on July 11 telling him that by blocking people from following his social media accounts, he is violating their rights of free speech under the state and federal constitutions. The newspaper had previously reported Bevin had blocked roughly 600 accounts from his official Facebook and Twitter pages. Blocking an account limits that person's ability to see Bevin's posts or to engage with him.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Jason Howie

Researchers from WKU and Clemson University have teamed up to learn more about the role social media sites play in spreading inaccurate information during crisis situations.

WKU associate professor of communications Blair Thompson recently co-authored a study that was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. The study examined the impact social media had on disseminating information following a pair of school shootings that took place at Fern Creek High School in Louisville and Albermarle, North Carolina, on Sept. 30, 2014.

Thompson recently spoke to WKU Public Radio about the research findings. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

What were you hoping to learn when you set out on this research project?

We knew there would be misinformation—that’s what happens when people go into that (a school shooting) so fast, and they’re posting  whatever, and they pull off what somebody else says, and it just kind of builds from there.

I think what’s useful about the research is that we were able to pinpoint the specific areas where the misinformation occurs. We found five or six categories.

An Indiana law that bans registered sex offenders from using Facebook and other social networking sites that can be accessed by children is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago overturned a federal judge’s decision upholding the law, saying the state was justified in trying to protect children but that the “blanket ban” went too far by restricting free speech.

The 2008 law “broadly prohibits substantial protected speech rather than specifically targeting the evil of improper communications to minors,” the judges wrote.

If the past is any indication, Monday night's final presidential debate will saturate social media. Last week's face-off between President Obama and Mitt Romney generated more than 12 million comments on Facebook and Twitter. 

Kevin Willis

When you walk into the downtown office of VE Creative, one of the first things you notice is the set of huge windows facing Owensboro’s 3rd street, a few blocks from the Ohio River. For the small group of workers here, these windows aren’t just a way to view the pretty scenery outside. They’re also a potential way to help generate online and social media street cred for the company, and--more importantly--downtown Owensboro.

Boxing great Muhammad Ali is hoping to inspire a new generation of leaders through a social media campaign. The campaign, called Generation Ali, is being launched in conjunction with the Summer Olympics in London. It will link young leaders around the world.