Animal Advocacy Organizations Challenge NIH Policy of Blocking Social Media Comments Critical of Animal Experiments

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Animal Legal Defense Fund have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to stop the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from automatically blocking comments containing keywords associated with viewpoints critical of animal testing on the agencies’ social media pages. The lawsuit alleges that the NIH and HHS Facebook and Instagram pages, which are open for comments from the general public, are public forums and that the agency’s practice is an unconstitutional content-based restriction. Plaintiffs are represented by the Knight 1st Amendment Institute at Columbia University.