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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

Twitter labels tweet from RT implying voter fraud in U.S. elections

Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Twitter on Thursday labeled a tweet from Russian state media outlet RT (formerly Russia Today) that included a video implying widespread voter fraud is plaguing, and potentially delegitimizing, the U.S. election.

Why it matters: It's the first time Twitter has labeled RT's account with a civic integrity label, or a designation used to highlight efforts to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civic processes.

1 hour ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.