The animal rights activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is suing Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young, alleging that the university blocked the group on Facebook and calling the move a violation of the First Amendment.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of PETA, said it believes Texas A&M has deleted or blocked comments PETA tried to post to the university’s Facebook page.
According to the suit, the comments criticized a university researcher’s testing on dogs that PETA believes is cruel and inhumane. Texas A&M censored PETA’s comments by automatically blocking certain words, including “PETA,” “cruelty” and “lab” from its Facebook page, the suit says.
Texas A&M could not immediately be reached for comment.
The university has previously said that the dogs in its research are treated with care and that the research seeks to cure Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
The suit says PETA discovered through trial and error that certain words were blocked. PETA staff first noticed in December that its comments against the research involving dogs weren’t showing up on Texas A&M’s Facebook page. A PETA staffer was able to write “TAMU rules! Go Aggies” on the page, but her post “Shut the cruel Muscular Dystrophy dog lab down NOW! This is torture!” did not show up, the suit says.
PETA argues in the lawsuit that this violates the First Amendment because it is viewpoint-based discrimination and “it impedes PETA’s ability to petition the government for redress of grievances.”
The lawsuit requests that a judge allow PETA to re-post its content to the Facebook page and prohibit Texas A&M from using automated filtering technology to block these sorts of posts.