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Mayor Watson changes tack, unblocks Twitter critics

Mayor Jim Watson has begun unblocking political critics on Twitter, following a court challenge that claimed his practice of blocking people was unconstitutional.

The case, launched last month by three Ottawa residents who were blocked by the mayor, said they had a right to view his Twitter feed because he is a public figure.

Blocking a user on Twitter prevents them from seeing a particular user’s feed or interacting with the user. The applicants in the court filing said Watson could instead use the mute function, which still allows them to see Watson’s feed, but he would not see them.

Watson initially responded by saying the feed belongs to him and there are other feeds belonging to the City of Ottawa which residents can turn to for official information. But the lawsuit says Watson often shares information not available from city feeds.

“Upon further reflection, Mayor Watson agrees with this view and has decided to directly address the specific concerns raised by unblocking these persons from his Twitter account moving forward,” a statement from the mayor’s office said on Friday.

On Friday, others on Twitter reported also being unblocked by Watson.

“Mayor Watson will continue to strive, whenever appropriate, to encourage all members of Council to maintain a high level of public accessibility through social media and other means,” his statement continued.