Thursday, August 20, 2015

Analysis of San Francisco DA George Gascon's Twitter Block List

In an earlier blog I shared the the San Francisco City Attorney's Twitter block list and now I have the block list of the San Francisco District Attorney's Twitter account, found here @GeorgeGascon.

However, this time I present a review in regards to who does and does not get blocked and, of course, there are some surprising results.

I've provided links to all the tweets that "may" have been responsible for getting the users blocked.  The majority of people blocked made one single comment (that I could find) to Gascon's Twitter account that resulted in their getting blocked.  Their comments fell mainly in the category of a generalized criticism of either Gascon or his department's performance.  Compare for yourself the comments of those blocked versus the non-blocked below:

The blocked:
@kittywhisperer7 (one tweet found)
@debrajsaunders (5 tweets found, this is the first one that most likely resulted in user getting blocked)
@BKactual (one tweet found)
@ralphhhenson (one tweet found)
@Kjhobbs1985 (one tweet found)
@richalgeni (one tweet found)
@SFsomaGirl (no tweets to Gascon found)
@chadphx (one tweet found)
@jbravo26 (one tweet found)
@InTwittVeritas (one tweet found)
@WayneDouganUK (one tweet found)
@playnicepeeps (one tweet found)
@honoroldglory (no tweets to Gascon found)
@JonFeere (5 tweets found, Jon indicates that this tweet got him blocked by Gascon)
@sfgirlresident (3 tweets found, this is the first one that most likely resulted in user getting blocked)
@ObamaBash (one tweet found)
@marymcnamara (2 tweets found, this is the first one that most likely resulted in user getting blocked)
@calfootballs (one tweet found)

The non-blocked:
@idesignwis (one tweet found)
@stout05 (one tweet found)
@Hifistud (one tweet found)
@Gretchen_sf (one tweet found)
@TheBeez70 (3 tweets found)
@filmfinder (5 tweets found, also responsible for posting tweet that got @calfootballs blocked for quoting)
@LNSmithee (5 tweets found)
@rusty_staples (one tweet found)
@AztlanConnect (2 tweets found, the first one undoubtedly would have resulted in user getting blocked, but did not)
@v1talyg (one tweet found)
@reynoldscameron (numerous tweets found, a few of them are critical of Gascon)

@MichaelPetrelis (numerous tweets found that would otherwise result in him getting blocked, but somehow never once did)

I present all this to you so that maybe you might notice the arbitrary decision making that goes on in the mind of a public official who feels compelled to block users from accessing their Twitter account.  I consider it shocking that Mr. Garcon, a practicing attorney serving in elected office, would somehow not realize the impact of his own behavior when it comes to his use of social media (I'd like to point out that hundreds of public officials are guilty of the same thing).

In using his account as means of public outreach, how can Mr. Gascon justify the fact that he blocks some people for simple comments of scrutiny and criticism, while others do not face the same or similar result?  For example, @Hifistud can drop the F-bomb, while @WayneDouganUK got blocked for his "apologize immediately" post.

However, here is the REAL surprise in all of this and it didn't occur to me until I was halfway through writing this blog.  George Gascon could have argued that the @GeorgeGascon account was private and that the @SFDAOffice was his public account.  However, my request was only for the list of blocked/muted users on the @GeorgeGascon account.  Maybe Gascon, being the smart attorney he is, new better than to try or even bother to argue that point because currently the two accounts are linked.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

CA Assembly Members, You're Next!

I'm getting together the information I'll need to submit a Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) request to all the members of the California Assembly regarding who they block or mute on Twitter.

As I look at each member's Twitter account I'm finding that they all use their account for the same general purpose and that's to keep their viewing audience up to date on issues of public concern.  Sadly, some members do this from a private account, some from a campaign account, and some from an account that could actually be defined as "public" because it also happens to link to either the California Assembly Democratic Caucus website or to the Republican Caucus website.

California's social media policy can be found on the California Department of Technology website.  They've published a State Wide Information Management Manual and in it you can find the state's Social Media Standard.

To make a long story short, the state's Social Media Standard is out-of-date and in urgent need of revision.  When it comes to social media use by public officials and agencies there is little regard to how their online actions may be unethical or even unlawful.

I've re-tweeted hundreds of people who've posted comments about being blocked by a public official or agency.  What I want all of them to know is that public officials and agencies have no right to use their "public" Twitter account to arbitrarily block people they simply disagree with from viewing or responding to their publicly posted and taxpayer funded tweets!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

See who the San Francisco City Attorney Blocks on his Twitter Accounts

Did you know that San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, has a total of 30 people blocked on his two Twitter accounts, @SFCityAttorney and @dennisherrera?  Well, here are the results:

Interestingly, I found absolutely no evidence that any of the blocked users ever initiated any contact with either the @SFCityAttorney or the @dennisherrera Twitter accounts.  We should all ask ourselves why these individuals are blocked to begin with.  We should question the process they should go through to get unblocked.  Unfortunately, there is no standard process for blocking people who Tweet posts of scrutiny or criticism toward a public official or agency, nor is there any standard practice they can initiate to regain their "unblocked" status.

This is not how democracy is supposed to work.  Tweets posted to "public" accounts of public officials must remain open to the public.