November 22, 2014
A lot of controversy is brewing into the legality of removing a website paid for with taxpayer dollars after the Facebook: San Diego Sheriff’s Department page was deleted after a lawsuit was filed against the department.
A lawsuit has been filed against San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore after comments were made by Dimitri Karras, then deleted on the San Diego Sheriff’s Department Facebook page.
Photographyisnotacrime.com reported the story November 19 after learning of the lawsuit. Several helpful links into Sheriff Gore’s past can be accessed through the Photographyisnotacrime page.
The Facebook page has since been taken down.
Karras has filed suit against Sheriff Gore, and the administrators of the Facebook page, whose names will be listed once it’s learned who exactly ran the page. The lawsuit, in which a jury trial has been demanded, alleges Sheriff Gore deprived Karras of his civil rights declaratory and injunctive relief under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Sheriff Gore was the FBI agent in charge of Ruby Ridge, the site of a deadly confrontation and siege in northern Idaho in 1992 between Randy Weaver, his family and his friend Kevin Harris, and agents of the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI. The confrontation resulted I the death of Weaver’s son Sammy, his wife Vicki, and Deputy U.S. Marshal William Francis Degan.
Under the name of Jim Brock, Karras posted a comment to the Facebook page directed at Sheriff Gore asking
“Sheriff Gore: Do you plead the 5th about your involvement in the MURDER of an unarmed woman who was holding her baby? REMEMBER RUBY RIDGE.”
When asked why he decided to pursue a lawsuit, Karras said
“I spent eight years in the Marine Corps; I fought in Iraq. I wasn’t sitting in rear either. People have fought a lot for these rights, and paid in blood. It”s about time we stopped taking them for granted. I’ve been raising awareness by posts and emails; I have large community that follows me. So I decided to go on his page, the one I pay for, San Diego Facebook page. I questioned his ability to run the department. I was banned and I called [the department], and the lady hung up on me. I told them I would sue. I sent them a letter. They ignored it. So I filed a lawsuit. They chose this path that we’re on right now. I gave them ample opportunity to unban me.”
This lawsuit may well set a precedent as to whether Facebook pages, run by administrators and paid for with taxpayer money, has the right to censor comments made by the people who pay for the webpage to exist in the first place.
It’s becoming more and more of a problem for these “like” pages to remove comments that don’t portray the page in a positive manner. Those who challenge the page are often banned from making future comments.
This especially holds true with the police pages after an officer shoots and kills a family dog. Many who go on a Facebook page after a dog shooting to chastise and question why a dog was shot find themselves banned from the page and their comments removed.
Should Facebook page administrators whose pages are paid for with taxpayer money be allowed to censor comments, remove those they don’t approve of, and ban the person who made the comment from making future posts? Your comments are welcome.