Montco commissioner cannot block constituents, delete comments on social media, court says

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Montgomery County commissioner who was sued for blocking constituents on his social media pages has settled the lawsuit.

According to the agreement in federal court, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale not only has to restore access to people he blocked on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but he’s also forbidden from blocking any other users on those accounts.

The agreement also says Gale is not allowed to delete or edit any future comments posted on his pages.

The lawyers who filed the suit called it a victory for the First Amendment.

Gale, however, still believes he has the right to ban, block and delete as he sees fit. 

“However, after watching President Trump get screwed by federal courts on this very same issue,” Gale said in an email, “I had no doubt I too would be the victim of a bad ruling.”

Plaintiff Abby Deardorff said she is grateful her rights have been restored. 

“When Commissioner Gale began blocking people from commenting negatively on his public statements, it created the impression that his views were unopposed,” she said, “when in reality, many of us strongly disagree with him.”

Gale hopes more comments on his posts “will trigger the Facebook and Twitter algorithms that determine what posts get shown to more people,” wrote the commissioner of the third-largest county in Pennsylvania. “By unbanning and unblocking the Marxist mob, they will actually help me spread my message to more supporters and grow my base.”