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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

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”