Utah State University: Students Blocked By Official University Social Media Accounts


Utah State University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

On Dec. 9, 2020, USU student Zachary Grant Bess chided his public university on Twitter, ending his tweet with “you bastards.” Staff blocked (and later unblocked) Bess from accessing USU’s official Twitter account. FIRE wrote USU on Jan. 28, 2021, urging it to rescind a social media policy allowing the university to delete comments or block users for “profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, electronic harassment, or privacy violations.” FIRE reminded USU that the First Amendment protects students’ speech online, and that access to official accounts is important to facilitating students’ awareness about campus events. On October 15, USU’s Board of Trustees approved a new social media policy, which limits the university’s ability to block accounts to “spam, solicitations, commercial content” or “unprotected or off-topic content,” allows individuals to appeal when blocked, and automatically unblocks accounts after a uniform time.