SURVEY: 77% of colleges use secret social media blacklist to censor the public, in violation of First Amendment


Colleges block over 1,800 unique terms on their social media pages
Secret filters automatically remove comments mentioning political figures, corporate partners, sports teams, faculty members, and even an emoji
87% of colleges block users on Facebook or Twitter
Administrators abuse social platform tools to quietly censor posts and users — transforming their pages from public forums into vehicles for positive publicity

PHILADELPHIA, April 22, 2020 — The majority of top public colleges and universities use a blacklist of secret words, created by Facebook, to automatically censor comments on university social media pages, according to a new survey from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. As campuses sit empty and much of student life moves online, this censorship has an amplified importance.

Colleges also compile custom lists collectively banning more than 1,800 words and phrases: from profanities to posts referencing matters of local and national concern, campus controversies, criticism of colleges’ corporate partners or sports teams, and even the weather. The findings, gleaned from public records from nearly 200 top institutions, show that public universities — bound by the First Amendment — are impermissibly censoring public dialogue.