Republican Legislators Get Social Media Training After Facebook Blocking Suit

Feb 20, 2019
Originally published on February 20, 2019 1:40 pm

A spokesperson for Republicans in the Ohio Senate says caucus members have unblocked people on their official social media pages as part of an effort to avoid further legal action.

As part of a legal settlement, state Sen. Joe Uecker recently (R-Miami) admitted no legal wrongdoing but paid $20,000 in fees and damages after blocking a constituent on Facebook. Caucus spokesperson John Fortney says that prompted training sessions, which included telling lawmakers to lift blocks they’d placed on anyone on their official pages.

“Social media is not there for you to win an argument and engage in constant arguments,” Fortney says he told lawmakers. “It’s there to get your point out.”

Forntney replied to interview requests WOSU sent to state Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), who was just elected to his first term. Some members of a Facebook group called “The Blocked Constituents of Andrew Brenner” contend they’re still blocked from some of his accounts.

Fortney says lawmakers can still block people from personal pages, but blocked members say it’s not always clear which page is which.

“If he asks for constituent feedback through that forum, is it official?” group founder John Yoder wrote in Facebook correspondence with WOSU. “Or is he just calling it a campaign page and that allows him to ban constituents from participating?”

Four other group members say they were unblocked from Brenner’s official Facebook and Twitter pages as recently as Tuesday.

Brenner often writes about official Ohio Senate business on what he calls his personal Twitter page, where he also provides a link to his official Ohio Senate Twitter account.

Copyright 2019 WOSU 89.7 NPR News. To see more, visit WOSU 89.7 NPR News.