San Diego

El Cajon Councilmember Settles Lawsuit Over Blocking Facebook Profile

Ben Kalasho is the first San Diego County politician to settle a lawsuit over the blocking of public profiles on his social media accounts.

An El Cajon city councilmember has settled a lawsuit filed against him over blocking members of the public from posting on or seeing his social media accounts.

Ben Kalasho agreed to settle the case filed by activist Mark Lane on Thursday, September 27.

Kalasho, who was served the lawsuit during a El Cajon city council meeting earlier this month, allegedly blocked Lane from viewing and commenting on the councilmember’s official Facebook page. In doing so, claimed the lawsuit, Kalasho violated Lane’s constitutional rights.

Kalasho is not the only politician in San Diego County to get sued for blocking members of the public from accessing their social media accounts. Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and National City Ron Morrison also face similar lawsuits, all of which filed by attorney Cory Briggs. 

Kalasho is, however, the first elected official in San Diego to settle. A surprising move considering that after getting served with the lawsuit, Kalasho called the lawsuit “frivolous,” and accused attorney Briggs of trying to “line his pockets.”

In June, NBC 7 Investigates filed public record requests for the “blocked lists” on every San Diego County mayor and city councilmember’s Facebook and Twitter profile. The records found 19 politicians who had blocked members of the public from seeing or posting on their pages. 

The terms of the settlement are included in a court document filed in federal court on September 27. 

Kalasho agreed to refrain from blocking members of the public from his social media accounts absent any posts that contain physical threats or that include profanities or if the posts are from software-generated profiles, also known as bots.

In addition, Kalasho has agreed to pay $1,500 in attorney’s fees to settle the case.

NBC 7 emailed Ben Kalasho for a response to the settlement but have not heard back.

In a statement to NBC 7, Lane’s attorney Cory Briggs says he and his client are “pleased that Mr. Kalasho has come to embrace the public’s constitutional right to speak to public officials.”

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