City shuts down Facebook comments, citing increase in bullying and harassment – The Free Press


As of November 1, the Town of Fernie has quietly stopped commenting on nearly all of its Facebook posts in an effort to protect staff from abuse and channel community commentary through its Let’s Talk Fernie website.

A city spokesperson said a decision was made to start limiting comments on the city’s Facebook page “in part due to the ability to constantly monitor the page, in part due to a increase in abusive messages and comments posted on the “.

They said the decision was made by city staff and came from the CEO’s office, not elected officials.

“At a time when we hear daily about how social media makes community dialogue toxic, and we see that here in Fernie, we’ve made the decision to put some effort into sharing information by posting regularly on Facebook. , but let’s stop promoting negative behavior by limiting comments on this tool.

“Name calling, inflammatory language and swear words have all been problems over the past few months. Sometimes the comments were aimed at the staff, at other times we saw arguments between members of the public, ”the spokesperson said.

Instead, comments and feedback are routed to the ‘Let’s Talk Fernie’ website, which launched in September 2020, and allows staff to more tightly regulate public comments to ensure that they are not. not abusive.

They said the city has invested in the Let’s Talk Fernie website “so that we can provide better information on targeted topics and better tools for engagement, all in a central location to support the community.”

The Town of Fernie is said to be the only municipality in East Kootenay to make a general decision to limit Facebook comments. At the time of writing, all other municipalities in the East Kootenay Regional District have continued to comment (mostly) open.

The city spokesperson said Fernie was following the lead of other municipalities and organizations in “making the decision to prioritize more effective engagement tools.”

In British Columbia, the District of Tofino has taken a similar path by limiting Facebook comments, while the town of Wasaga Beach in Ontario recently made the same decision to shut down social media comments. Mayor Nina Bifolchi of Wasaga Beach herself addressed the issue in a video on Facebook and in a press release, explaining on October 26 that it was due to “a small number of people in our community who used the pages to intimidating council members, city staff, and others commenting on the page, and because individuals have used the city page as a place to lie and spread misinformation.

While comments on Fernie’s Facebook page are likely to remain closed, residents have other means of communication available to them beyond Let’s Talk, such as forms on the city’s website, a request for service and email tool, and front desk services during normal operations. hours.

Municipal government


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