Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) has launched a new Facebook page for updates on his government activity in response to a lawsuit threat from a civil liberties group that says he excluded constituents from his political account.
King's new page, "Congressman Pete King," was created as an extension of his office's Twitter account, and "just made sense to do," he said.
On April 24, officials of the New York Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of about 70 Facebook users blocked on King's political page, said they would take legal action if those users were not added and allowed to post comments to that page by May 3.
"It wasn't a big deal," King said Wednesday. "They were objecting to the fact there was no Facebook page for government purposes. The easiest way was to just set up another page."
The NYCLU said King’s Facebook page constitutes a public forum because he uses it to make announcements, discuss policy issues and correspond with constituents. The NYCLU noted a federal lawsuit filed by seven Twitter users who were blocked from President Donald Trump's Twitter account.
“The Supreme Court recognizes that social media platforms are perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to private citizens in making their voice heard," NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement. "Regardless of their views, constituents have a right to engage in public discourse, and all official government social media pages serve as public forums."
Lieberman said although the group was “pleased with Rep. King’s decision to create an official Facebook page that does not block anyone, we know that this is not an issue specific to the Congressman. Many elected officials have followed in the footsteps of President Trump in blocking dissenting views expressed on Twitter and other social media platforms."
King said last month he was prepared to fight any legal challenge. He said his primary goal was to protect his "Pete King" Facebook page, which is paid for with campaign funds.
King said his case differed from Trump's because he has always kept his political and governmental social media accounts separate. He said he does not remove or block any posts from his official Twitter page.