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Boise Schools unblocks Twitter users after records request, complaint

The Boise School District blocked more than 30 accounts on Twitter, an apparent violation of First Amendment rights.

Earlier this week, Twitter user Jane Gordon noted she had been blocked by the district’s “BSDEducation” account. BoiseDev filed a public records request for the names of all accounts blocked by the district on the social media platform.

At the time of the request, 30 accounts were blocked, including Gordon, as well as former Boise State Football Player Shane Williams-Rhodes, CBS host James Corden, at least one apparent Boise School District employee and a number of local Twitter users.

(Disclosure: The school district blocked me on Twitter, which I discovered in 2013. I asked the school district to unblock me at the time, and they promptly did so, saying it was an “error”.)

Changes to procedures

The district said it unblocked all the users, and made changes to its proceedures.

“Recently, we were made aware that we had blocked certain Twitter accounts,” the district wrote in a statement. “We have unblocked all accounts and reviewed our procedures to prevent this in the future.”

The district says the block of Gordon “appears” unintentional.

“Over nearly eight years, Boise School District had blocked thirty-one accounts,” the district’s statement continued. “Detailed records as to why each individual account was blocked were not kept. Moving forward, Boise School District reserves the right to remove, block, or mute any posts or users that incite violence or criminal conduct, or include fighting words, obscenity, defamation, or commercial speech. In the event an account is blocked, the account holder will be notified with the applicable reason cited.“

Blocking a users on Twitter prevents that person from seeing or replying to tweets. The Boise School District often provides updates on urgent matters like school closings on the service.

A federal appeals court ruled President Donald Trump could not block some users on the service because it is a public forum. Several users also sued New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for blocking them on the service. She later apologized as part of a settlement.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at don@boisedev.com.

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