Closure of comments on City of Greater Sudbury Facebook page after rise in inappropriate responses

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If you’ve recently visited the City of Greater Sudbury’s Facebook page, you may have noticed that something is missing: the comments section.

This is because the city said it has decided to shut down comments to visitors to the social media account.

Ed Archer, the city’s chief administrative officer, said staff have noticed an increase in rude, inappropriate and hurtful comments left by followers.

“It’s affected respectful users who want to understand information about our programs and services, and it’s affected the mental health of our staff,” he said.

“The frequency of these types of comments has reached a point where it just can’t be ignored and it’s not going away. It seems to be getting worse.”

This Facebook channel has become toxic, frankly.– Ed Archer, General Manager, City of Greater Sudbury

“This Facebook channel has become toxic, frankly,” Archer said.

He said the posts shared on COVID-19 messaging drew the most negative comments.

“This carries over to information about our other municipal programs and services.”

Archer said the city doesn’t want to further expose Facebook followers and especially city staff to inappropriate and hurtful comments.

“It’s just not something anyone has to put up with.”

As for City losing social media followers, Archer isn’t too worried.

“If the Facebook followers we’re losing are the ones who are making completely inappropriate and rude comments, I’m personally okay with that,” he said.

Anyone wishing to comment on City of Greater Sudbury programs, services or decisions may do so through other means.

“There are respectful ways for people to engage with us,” Archer said.

“Nobody is stopping dissenting voices. In fact, we have several channels available for these dissenting voices to make their views heard, but in a respectful way. The Facebook page was just not one of those ways. .”

These other channels include 3-1-1public meetings, speak with a city councilor or use the city’s engagement platform called Yours is Greater Sudbury.

Comments will still be allowed on the City’s other social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram.

Other municipalities have also made similar decisions, including the Town of Wasaga Beachas well as Fernie and Tofino, both in British Columbia.

“No need for malicious and defamatory comments”

Ward 5 City County. Robert Kirwan reposted the city notice on his group page. He and his wife run the Valley East Facebook page.

“There is no need for malicious and defamatory comments on social media,” he said in his post.

Kirwan also suggested the city should consider taking legal action against people who leave comments that make false accusations or defamatory statements about city employees.

“Until people who feel they have the right to abuse and harass others who use social media suffer the consequences of their actions, nothing will change,” he said in his post.

“They’ll just go to another social media forum and continue their anti-social behavior.”

Kirwan added that dissenting opinions are welcome on Valley East’s Facebook page, but “comments should not be inflammatory, derogatory, unfair or unjust.”

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