Mallory McMahon has a bone to pick with Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis.
McMahon, a founder of the grassroots group Fight Back Bay Ridge, said she was unfairly rebuffed in her attempt to take part in a survey Malliotakis posted on Facebook and Twitter to gauge public opinion on a state plan to ban single-use plastic bags because the Republican lawmaker blocked her.
“I want to vote in @NMalliotakis’s plastic bag poll…but can’t because I’m blocked from engaging with her page,” McMahon wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
In that same tweet, McMahon pointed out that Spectrum News NY1 aired a story about Republican elected officials in Bay Ridge blocking people on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Malliotakis represents parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island. “She blocked me and a lot of other people,” McMahon told this newspaper.
After the NY1 story was posted, McMahon said, Malliotakis unblocked her on Twitter. “But I am still blocked from engaging with her page on Facebook. I can only like or dislike her posts. So I couldn’t take the survey,” McMahon said.
When this newspaper initially contacted Malliotakis, the lawmaker was asked specifically whether she had blocked McMahon on Twitter. She flatly denied it. “I haven’t blocked anybody. No one is blocked,” she told this newspaper.
But this newspaper attempted to reach Malliotakis again a second time to inquire as to whether she blocked McMahon on Facebook. By press time, Malliotakis had not yet responded.
On Friday, this newspaper did reach the pol, who denied that she blocked McMahon on Facebook or Twitter.
McMahon, who admitted that she is not a constituent of Malliotakis’, charged that the assembly member’s poll can’t be trusted because if the lawmaker is blocking people from participating, there is a strong likelihood that the results will be skewed. “If you post a survey and then block people from participating, how fair is that? It feels like smoke and mirrors to me,” she said.
For McMahon, the issue is much larger than a survey on plastic bags.
“These people are elected officials. They should expect the public to engage with them. This is a woman who ran for mayor,” McMahon said.
Malliotakis ran for mayor against Democrat Bill de Blasio in 2017 and lost.
The issue of whether elected officials can block members of the public from their social media pages has come up more and more frequently in recent years.
Constituents claim they have a right to fully engage with elected officials while politicians argue that they have a right to protect themselves from Internet trolls harassing them.
So far, the courts have sided with the public over the politicians.
In the most well known case to date, a federal court in Virginia ruled in 2018 that President Donald Trump could not block people from following him on Twitter because it would be a violation of their First Amendment rights.
The Facebook feud with Malliotakis isn’t the first time McMahon has had a dispute with a Bay Ridge elected official.
Last year, she confronted Republican Marty Golden at a debate when Golden was running for re-election as a state senator, and criticized him for refusing to meet with her one-on-one to discuss educational issues. Golden never granted McMahon’s request for a meeting.
Update (April 2 at 9:12 a.m..): The above material has been updated to include Malliotakis’ denial of blocking McMahon on Facebook.