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Mark Lennihan / AP

As of February, Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan had blocked 450 people on Facebook, WashPost reports. POTUS has been known to block people on Twitter, too. Now, ProPublica reports that Republican lawmakers across the country are blocking constituents from sharing their thoughts on social media, and it's raising a 21st century debate about free speech rights.

Why it matters: Social media is an integral part of many people's lives — from mine to the President's. And these networks are always thinking of ways to better connect people with their lawmakers. Facebook, for example, just added an update that will make it easier for politicians to identify and communicate with their constituents online.

Kentucky's Republican Governor Matt Bevin earned his own hashtag (#BevinBlocked) after he blocked multiple constituents on Twitter. People started delivering block messages to Republican Congressman Paul Gosar's office in Arizona after he continued to block them online. And the Indivisible Group in Austin, Texas, started selling t-shirts for those who had been blocked by their local lawmaker on social media.

What it means: If you're blocked by your lawmaker on social media, you have no access to their official page and therefore no way to interact with them online. You cannot post, like or comment on their page, nor can you comment or leave questions during live videos. And many lawmakers don't have official policies about how to allow re-entry for someone who was previously blocked — ProPublica notes that sometimes a call to the politician's office has been effective, but that leaves an open-ended timeframe of when a constituent's access to his or her lawmaker would be reinstated.

What they're saying: Lawmakers who block people from interacting with them on social media are "purposefully removing any semblance of debate or alternative ideas or ideas that challenge his own — and that seems completely undemocratic."

One big question: Are users' First Amendment rights being violated when a lawmaker blocks them online? One person who spoke with ProPublica likened the experience to being thrown out of a Town Hall meeting for asking a tough question. Legal experts will now get to analyze whether and how these online interactions between politicians and the people they represent fit under free speech rights.

Go deeper

7 mins ago - World

Two years of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two years ago Wednesday, the first case of a mysterious new respiratory disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. Now, the Omicron variant has deepened concerns about just how much longer the coronavirus pandemic will last.

The big picture: More than 5 million people have died since that first case. Most people on earth have lived through some form of lockdown. 54% of the global population has had at least one vaccination, though the shots have been distributed unevenly.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

14 hours ago - Economy & Business

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.