Lawsuit: mayor's social media blocklists are public records

Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine has a history of blocking his critics on social media, including Grant Stern, who runs the Photography is Not a Crime group.

Stern says that Levine used his Facebook and Twitter accounts as the official mayoral account, but when Stern asked for records of how many of Levine's constituents had been blocked by their mayor, the mayor's profiles were hastily amended to say that they represented his personal opinions and were in no way official.

It's an interesting case, one that has the potential to set an important precedent about the role of social media in public records requests. Given that social media is now a critical campaign tool for politicians seeking election, it's a sure bet that most elected officials continue to use their social media after taking office as part of their governance, though the status of these accounts is a legal grey zone.

Levine utilizes Facebook® to communicate the official acts and businesses of the City of Miami Beach to his constituents. Levine's Facebook® account addresses him as a governmental official and that his current office is the mayor of Miami Beach, Florida. Levine's account states that he is: "Making Miami Beach the city that works…for its people."

After a cursory review of Levine's Twitter® and Facebook®, there's no question that Levine utilizes social media to communicate the City of Miami Beach's official business. Levine's communications include posts such as renaming a Miami Beach street after Muhammad Ali to informing residents of the Zika virus outbreak in the city.

Grant Stern vs City of Miami Beach [11th Judicial Circuit for Miami-Dade County]

PINAC Director Sues Miami Beach Mayor Over Refusal To Release Social Media Blocklists
[Tim Cushing/Techdirt]