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California Town Abandons Facebook Page Amid Legal Concerns

Posted Aug 24, 2010 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The city of Redondo Beach, Calif., is abandoning its Facebook page after hearing about potential legal problems.

The city council voted to ditch the page last week after City Attorney Mike Webb outlined his concerns about the First Amendment and state legal requirements, the Daily Breeze reports. The legal issues include:

• May city officials remove vulgar posts and misinformation, or are the comments protected by the First Amendment?

• If a quorum of city council members comment on a Facebook post, is it a violation of the open meetings law? Such laws require advance notice of meetings and an opportunity to attend, blogger Robert Ambrogi writes at the Media Law blog.

• Is the city obligated to retain user comments under the state’s public records law?

• Could the city face liability for employee comments deemed offensive in the workplace?

Webb told the Daily Breeze he believes Facebook has too many complications that could lead to litigation. “I would just prefer that the case law not have 'City of Redondo Beach' in the title,” he said.

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