Social media networks offer a platform for users to connect and share information, so can censorship exercised by government-sponsored forums be considered a violation of freedom of speech? Lawsuits such as the one filed against the City and County of Honolulu allege it is a violation of the First Amendment to remove comments from a government-sponsored Facebook page if they are not an infringement of the user's policy.

According to Attorney Julie Tappendorf of local government law firm Ancel Glink, the lawsuit claims that the Honolulu City Police Department (HPD) removed comments that were critical of the police department solely based on the content or viewpoint of the speech. “It is alleged that the comments were removed due to difference in opinion rather than being of an obscene, derogatory or defamatory nature, which is a direct violation of the user policy,” says Tappendorf.

Tappendorf adds that since there is little to no case law on the application of the First Amendment to government social media sites, municipalities have minimal guidance in how to administer their social media sites or enforce their terms of use policies. “The issue will be whether the district court will accept the plaintiffs' argument that a Facebook page is a traditional public forum for purposes of a First Amendment claim.”