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Hoboken Mulling Proposal That Would Outlaw City Elected Leaders Blocking People On Social Media

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- With so much negativity on social media, it's natural to want to block the people who are nasty to you.

But should elected leaders be able to do that as well?

That's a question the Hoboken City Council will take up up this week, CBS2's Jessica Layton reported Monday.

We've often heard communication is a two-way street, and in Hoboken a city council member wants to make sure it stays that way -- even on social media.

"We've heard complaints from constituents that certain council people have been blocking people for years and we felt like it was time to act," Councilman Phil Cohen said.

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Cohen is sponsoring a new rule that would prevent elected leaders from blocking people on sites like Facebook and Twitter. It stems most recently from accusations that Councilman Mike DeFusco was blocking accounts of those who raised questions about him traveling internationally during the coronavirus pandemic.

"These are serious questions and to block people on social media who ask those questions is wrong," Cohen said.

Eytan Stern Weber is a former Hoboken resident who said DeFusco blocked him when he questioned whether the lawmaker was tweeting and driving.

"Part of serving the public means interacting with the public. If that's not something that you can handle, then you picked the wrong job," Weber said.

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DeFusco, who did not want to speak on camera, said some of his political opponents have been abusing the page to post "false, personal attacks against me in an attempt to bully me and my supporters."

He admits to blocking a handful of people, but said he has since unblocked those accounts.

"It is election season in Hoboken and this is just another political stunt," Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said.

Fisher said this is all part of the ugly side of local politics. She said, regardless, she won't be voting for the ordinance.

"Personally, I think this is a huge overreach of local government and, if anything, it just weaponizes campaigns that are predatory in nature," Fisher said.

The proposal will be introduced during the council's virtual meeting Wednesday night. If it passes, violating the rule could mean a fine of $500.

CBS2's Jessica Layton contributed to this report

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