Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Public Libraries Must Unblock Social Media Participants

Public libraries must unblock social media participants.  For reporting truthful news about libraries that library directors or library boards do not want people to hear, I have been blocked by a number of libraries, including @BKLYNlibrary, @BPL, @ElyriaLibrary (an association library, meaning a private non-profit, despite the name), @KCLibrary, @LHPL, @NorthbrookPL, @OrlandPkLibrary.  For example, "You are blocked from following @bpl and viewing @bpl's Tweets. Learn more."

Blocking means I cannot read anything published on that particular site, such as Twitter or Facebook, and that blocks my First Amendment rights and my ability to report on activities at that library that might have helped the community.  In other words, blocking harms the community generally as voices are illegally cut off from the conversation.  Blocking also makes a mockery out of any library's claim to value free speech, intellectual freedom, and the First Amendment.  So blocking harms the libraries themselves.  Blocking, in the case of public entities, simply hurts everyone.

I have even been blocked by libraries because individual employees who do not agree with my reports about the American Library Association run the social media accounts and block me on their own accord, like @CHPLNJ.  When I informed the library director, I was immediately unblocked.  I have since been occasionally but regularly retweeting that library to help bring attention to its programming.  And that's what I might do with the other libraries were I to regain access.

The ACLU and its state affiliates have recently won a string of legal matters showing that public entities may not block social media participants.

Further, my co-author Kevin DuJan and his partner Megan Fox won a $55,000 settlement from the Orland Park Public Library [OPPL] (that still blocked me until I wrote the email below) in part for blocking them on Facebook.  They wrote a book about the ordeal, about how OPPL allowed and hid child p—rnography from the public with the active help of the American Library Association [ALA].  The book is highly readable and is like a bible of open government and FOIA actions and counteractions needed to expose public corruption and harm.  Buy and read, "Shut Up!: The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment," pictured at top right.  "I hope someone writes about this someday," said Barbara M. Jones, Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the ALA.  Well, there you go.

Finally, for those who need more convincing, even ALA sides with free speech on this issue. "Nonetheless, there is a strong argument that opening social media for public comment creates a designated public forum as it does in the analogous situation where a governmental entity opens a meeting room or exhibit space for public use.  ....  A social media account serves as the digital face of the library and should maintain the same level of customer service provided in the physical library."  Source:
Here are the reasons ALA says is okay to remove content—I never crossed the line—notice "temporary blocking," not the permanent blocking I've experienced:
Unacceptable behavior that may result in the removal of a post or the temporary blocking of a user could include speech that is not protected by the First Amendment, such as copyright violations, obscenity, child p[—]nography, defamatory or libelous comments, or imminent or true threats against the library, library staff or other users.  ....
A library can urge its users to adhere to the established acceptable use policies of the host platform and to engage in civil discourse, but as a governmental entity subject to the strictures of the First Amendment (unlike the private entity that may be the host platform), the library will have an obligation to regulate its social media pursuant to First Amendment law and cannot restrict speech on the basis that the private entity might do so.  Courts likely would find that the library or other governmental entity could not avoid its obligations under the First Amendment by using a private platform.
Best practices include developing a procedure through which libraries notify patrons of why they are being blocked, provide an appellate process within the library for the patron to challenge the removal, and determine an acceptable time period for the patron to proceed through a reinstatement procedure.  Permanently blocking a patron from the social media site based on prior comments could be considered a prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment.
90-minute workshop,
10 Jan 2019, 2:30pm ET
None of the libraries that blocked me notified me.  Zero.  Now I have ALA as a reliable source to prove, "Permanently blocking a patron from the social media site based on prior comments could be considered a prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment."  Thank you.

And regarding open government FOIA issues, ALA holds:
The social media content of a public library or publicly funded academic library can be subject to an open records, or Freedom of Information Act, request.  All user’s posts that are removed for any reason whatsoever should be securely retained in accordance with your organization's retention schedule.  The policy for how long a library retains these social media posts should be clearly stated in its social media policy and reviewed by legal counsel.
So all libraries should clear out their social media block lists and avoid placing blocks in the first place, especially if the reason for the block is that they don't like what reporters are reporting.  I recommend librarians, library directors, and library boards of trustees read this ALA source and write good social media use policies based thereupon: "Social Media Guidelines for Public and Academic Libraries."  Free tip from SafeLibraries® brand library educational services that could save lots of time and trouble.

Below is one of the emails I wrote to the various libraries to try to clear the blocks—and let me note that in less than a day since I sent these messages, the First Amendment was respected by 1) Brooklyn Public Library @BKLYNlibrary, 2) Elyria Public Library @ElyriaLibrary, and 3) Orland Park Public Library @OrlandPkLibrary, so kudos to them:

Request for Unblock per First Amendment Jurisprudence

Dear Orland Park Public Library Director Mary Weimar,

Your governmental digital media including your Twitter account @OrlandPkLibrary blocks my digital media reader/commenter accounts including my Twitter account @SafeLibraries. Given recent legal decisions requiring governmental digital media to be open to all and to not block anyone, I am hereby asking you to unblock my digital media accounts. I will then be able to read and comment upon your public statements again.

I am writing this email in support of the First Amendment in an effort to end the governmental censorship as quickly as possible with the least amount of effort for all involved. Simply unblock and unmute me.

My next step would be to file a FOIA request for block lists, something that would take more time and money to address and that must be addressed. So here's your chance to voluntarily support free speech quickly with a minimal amount of effort and money expended. A win-win for everyone.

Thank you.
Dan Kleinman, Owner of SafeLibraries® brand library educational services
Reportage:  SafeLibraries®
                     Sexual Harassment of Librarians
Twitter:        SafeLibraries
Facebook:   Dan Kleinman
About Me:
Address:     641 Shunpike Rd #123, Chatham, NJ 07928
Phone:        973-610-8296; 845-397-7233

Steven Bell

See also:


Kudos to Birmingham Public Library @BPL that has now unblocked me as well.  Thank you.


One graphic replaced with another featuring an ALA webinar on drafting social media policies that being given today:
Also, today I have been unblocked by Liberty Hill Public Library @LHPL and by Northbrook Public Library @NorthbrookPL, so kudos to them as well.

I remain blocked by only @KCLibrary.  And I'm also blocked by the Nebraska Library Commission @NLC_News.

Let me add that my being unblocked as I was is very gratifying mainly because the unblocking was done so quickly and at so little cost to any community, basically $0.  Where I stay blocked may result in escalating efforts to comply with First Amendment law or not that will be only the library's own doing.


I have been unblocked by the Nebraska Library Commission @NLC_News, so good on them.  They did not know why I was on the block list with obvious spam accounts.  So I responded as follows, and they responded that they appreciated the heads up:
Thank you!

My experience tells me that individual librarians having access to the public accounts act on their own to block me, likely in violation of any existing social media policy.  At least one library director told me this.

Background is that I am have for almost two decades been critical of American Library Association policy.  As a result, one prominent librarian sent out word that other librarians should block me on any social media so that I would get a black mark and be censored by that social media.  Hundreds blocked me, still do.  Some platforms blocked me as a result of all the negativity, the heckler's veto, as it were.  It is more than likely that some of those hundreds of librarians took advantage of their ability to access the social media sites of government entities to block me there as well to increase the power of the heckler's veto.  I suspect that's how I ended up on your block list.  Who knows, it may be an issue to look into so it doesn't cause further headache, especially in light of the recent ACLU litigation finding that public entity accounts should not be blocking people.

So now that I'm unblocked, I will add @NLC_News to my public list of state libraries.  Done.  Hopefully you'll get a few more eyes now.  By the way, ALA Midwinter starts soon, and if you add #alamw19 into your tweets, many people will view them at that time.

Thanks again.
@KCLibrary still blocks me.

Let me add that many in ALA itself block me, including top leadership, including the president herself, and even though she had been extraordinarily nice to me in the past when I met her at FTRF45 at Scholastic in New York City and she insisted on introducing me to Barbara Jones, then head of OIF.  But ALA is not a public entity so I'm not asking them to unblock me.  Still, for an organization so dedicated to free speech and intellectual freedom, blocking legitimate criticism looks inconsistent, at the least.  It looks like, in their own words, it "could be considered a prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment."  If you mean things, you need to be held to account.



Yay!  The last library to block me has finally unblocked me.  Kudos to Kansas City Public Library @KCLibrary (that's the one in Missouri).


And now, an announcement.  I am very happy that all this was resolved with a minimum of time and effort for the libraries concerned.  I did this with a few emails or a few online forms or even a phone call here and there, always politely, and without the need for filling any freedom of information act requests that can cause some libraries to run for legal advice that only drives up the costs for the communities.  This is the way I usually try to solve problems.

I say this because some of those librarians who block me say defamatory things about me just to convince others to silence me as well.  I mean sick, sick stuff.  Once my wife was in a library when a librarian, not knowing her patron was my wife, began telling really disturbing things about me that my wife knew were not true.  My child was there too listening.  No kidding, the effort to defame me is so widespread that some librarian randomly told my wife how awful I am without even knowing she was my wife.

Another time a reporter told me he didn't want to take my call because of what ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom told him about me.  But he suspected he may have been misled so he was willing to give me a chance.  When what I reported to him and when the reliable sources I supplied turned out to be 100% true, his words, then he believed me and then he did the media report and I appeared on television as a result.

ALA itself even defames me, sometimes openly and sometimes by just sticking the knife in my back without my knowing.  No honor at all.  Openly, ALA's head of its Office for Intellectual Freedom, then named James LaRue, mocked me on Twitter: "ALA in Orlando: blood drives, school supplies, many contributions. We stand by the victims, we offer aid. @Safelibraries does ... nothing."  Oh yes, @jaslar blocks me on Twitter, the then head of the Office for Intellectual Freedom.  Not joking.

Behind my back, ALA's OIF tells all librarians that if I should try to attend a lecture where ultimately ALA trained librarians to be homophobic using a homophobic teacher they knew was homophobic but still rehired, ALA should be informed so they could excise the obviously harmful parts of the training.  Ultimately ALA #2 at OIF, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Esq., now the Acting Director for the second time, used her private email to order all librarians to destroy any notes or recordings of the homophobic training.  But first, she sent this, emphasis hers: "IF Dan Kleinman or some of our detractors attend, we will need to change our content.  We've dealt with this before, so if it is an open webinar, we just need to know that."

So librarians and the American Library Association are adept at defaming people who report on ALA's harmful policies and practices, such as homophobia.  They never debate honestly, it's merely smear after smear.  Because they know they would lose.  So this is likely part of how I ended being blocked by so many free speech librarians and libraries and even a state library.

All this so people won't hear my message, backed up by reliable sources, that ALA intentionally harms communities including children via dangerous policies and intimidating tactics.  But I won't go into more detail here.  Just read the "Big Picture" section of this page in the upper right and you'll get the idea.

I handle all interactions with libraries and librarians in about as friendly and non-confrontational a manner as possible, as seen in this case.  So if you're a librarian still blocking me, like the ALA President herself, Loida Garcia-Febo, perhaps it's time to think for yourselves and remove the blocks!

URL of this page:

On Twitter: 
@ACLU, @ALAlibrary, @BKLYNlibrary, @BPL, @CHPLNJ, @ElyriaLibrary,
@KCLibrary, @LHPL, @NorthbrookPL, @OIF, @OrlandPkLibrary