Tampa Bay Times by Jeffrey S. Soloschek
November 13, 2019
LAND O’LAKES — Kurt Browning knew his bid for a third term as Pasco County schools superintendent wouldn’t win universal acclaim.
His critics surely would “hammer” him on social media, Browning predicted. He said he’d steer clear of the negative commentary, if at all possible.
But Browning peeked.
Several folks had taken to the web to blast Browning as “inept,” “corrupt” and worse. They attacked his record, his decisions, his demeanor.
The barrage got to him. And in a snap decision he’d come to regret, Browning blocked perhaps his fiercest opponent — Trinity resident Jim Stanley — from his Twitter and Facebook accounts.
“When a public official creates a social media page … they have created a public forum of sorts under the First Amendment, to which First Amendment rights attach, and they can’t block people,” said Barbara Petersen, the longtime head of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation.