‘First Amendment auditors’ hunting for clickbait

April 18, 2024

YouTube screenshot

By Allison Scarbrough, News Editor

Four men claiming to be “First Amendment auditors” have been making their rounds locally to bait police, government officials and business people to act unprofessionally and post unflattering videos of them on YouTube.

The men, two of whom appear to be middle aged and the other two appear to be in their 20s, are filming videos from windows of buildings, and in some cases, they are filming inside the building.

“Ludington Police Department has received numerous calls and a few visits this afternoon about the folks … walking about town recording ‘things’ and people,” states LPD in an April 16 Facebook post. “While we recognize that many folks prefer not to be recorded, especially by strangers, there are legal principles to take into consideration. The people recording are often referred to as ‘First Amendment auditors.’ They travel around recording people and places, often looking for a confrontation with folks who do not approve of their actions.

YouTube screenshot

“Here is the law — as long as the ‘First Amendment auditors’ are in a public place, they are free to record. Private businesses can direct them to leave, and they must leave that business. However, they are free to record — from a public place, anyone or anything that is also utilizing that public place. Whether someone likes it or not, there is a diminished ‘expectation to privacy’ in public places. If you are a business owner encountering these folks and you want them to leave, ask them to leave. If they refuse, call LPD and we will respond. While we recognize that many folks will not like this behavior, it is protected and they are allowed to conduct their business in public settings.”

Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast said the group made a stop at the Oceana County Courthouse earlier this week. “I talked to them for a while, and they are really crude, vulgar and rude,” he said. “They were creeping around the courthouse.” The men were shooting video through the windows of work stations inside the courthouse, he said. “This worried the employees. We have sensitive information in the courthouse, such as jury questionnaires.”

YouTube screenshot

They have visited the towns of Hart, Shelby, Ludington, Baldwin, Montague and Whitehall, he said.

They posted a video harassing Shelby State Bank employees at the Shelby branch. When officials asked their names, they refused to give their names. When asked why they were filming, one of them answered, “I tour towns for people who can’t necessarily do it themselves.” While filming, they make many disparaging remarks about the people and the businesses. 

In the Shelby video, they all march into the Shelby Township office with their cameras and walk down the hallway.

“They’re difficult to legally stop,” said Mast. “The best remedy is not to confront them.” If they film outside your window, pull the shade down.

YouTube screenshot

“They’re splitting hairs with constitutional rights,” said the sheriff. “They’re on the edge of being caustic — trying to rile people up. They know where they can push the limit. This is very disturbing to people.”

The group appears to be baiting people into acting unprofessionally, particularly those who have taken an oath to uphold the constitution, such as police officers.


Receive daily MCP and OCP news briefings along with email news alerts for $10 a month. 

The easiest way is to sign up for an automatic monthly payment on Paypal. Click this link.

Alternative methods:

  • We can send you an invoice each month, which you can conveniently pay online or by check. If you are interested in this method, please email editor@mediagroup31.com and we can sign you up. You can also mail a yearly check for $120 to Media Group 31, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454.
  • We also accept Venmo payments.

We appreciate all our readers regardless of whether they choose to continue to access our service for free or with a monthly financial support.

If you would like to support MCP/OCP but do not wish to receive daily emails, please consider sending a contribution to any of the above methods or pay by Venmo (@masoncountypress).  We appreciate all our readers regardless of whether they choose to continue to access our service for free or with a monthly financial support.


This story and original photography are copyrighted © 2024, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

As the services of Media Group 31, LLC are news services, the information posted within the sites are archivable for public record and historical posterity. For this reason it is the policy and practice of this company to not delete postings. It is the editor’s discretion to update or edit a story when/if new information becomes available. This may be done by editing the posted story or posting a new “follow-up” story. Media Group 31, LLC or any of its agents have the right to make any changes to this policy. Refer to Use Policy for more information.

Please consider helping to fund local news. Mason County Press and Oceana County Press are available for free thanks to the generous support of our advertisers and individuals. Three ways to help us: Venmo: @MasonCountyPress; Paypal: MasonCountyPress@gmail.com; Mail a check to PO BOX 21, Scottville, MI 49454.





Eats & Drinks

Eats & Drinks