Kamloops got an immediate reaction for shutting down Facebook comments | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Kamloops got an immediate reaction for shutting down Facebook comments

FILE PHOTO - Kamloops City Hall

A new Facebook page is aiming to continue public discourse after the City of Kamloops turned off comments on its social media page earlier this week.

Creator Amy Giddens, a Kamloops resident, said they created the Facebook page 'City of Kamloops - Municipal Government Public Oversight Committee' and has been sharing all city posts because the city turned off Facebook comments on its page.

“They’re taking more and more steps into making it so their narrative can’t be challenged and I don’t think that’s right,” they said.

READ MORE: City of Kamloops shuts down comments on its Facebook page

“This was kind of just a citizen’s reaction. You are not going to get away with these stories without the public being able to add to the narrative,” they said. “Turning off the comments was a really bad move and the entire reason behind this [new Facebook page] is to turn the comments back on and have some transparency.”

A comment on the Facebook page from the city said the page must stop using the City of Kamloops logo, which Giddens said they initially used from the city’s website but has since changed it to a similar image after the comment.

“I am trying to challenge them, I’m not trying to just piss them off… I think they are making a mistake, using public resources, public funding and public support to eliminate the public,” they said.

While Giddens said there is a cesspool of negative comments online, it’s not a good enough excuse to stop the comments for everyone.

“Facebook was never intended to be an engagement tool,” said city chief administrative officer David Trawin. “We were using Facebook to get the information out.”

Staff was being “disparaged” for putting out information and the wrong information was also being shared by residents in the comments, he said.

“It’s the lack of civility that led to us taking it off. When you put something on there and staff are insulted and staff are called names, it’s just being so negative. We have staff monitoring (and) it started affecting their health,” he said.

Facebook has tools that allow page owners to ban users or delete comments. The city was given the legal opinion that there are parameters around deleting comments or interacting with the person, Trawin said.

“The number of comments is also is costing a lot of money to (monitor it). They also put the person in a tough position to monitor it. We have a higher standard as a public entity to do that. We can’t ban certain users for putting a disparaging comment like ‘fire Dave Trawin,’” he said.

“The best thing if you want to keep it civil… is to turn off the comments section.”

He said the city isn’t discouraging other pages to make comments but they didn’t feel it was the appropriate format to post those comments.

Trawin has no issues with the City of Kamloops - Municipal Government Public Oversight Committee other than the Facebook page using a photo of city hall and a trademarked logo, he said, because the city is not affiliated with the page.

“I encourage people to do that, that’s what Facebook is for, I have no problems with that whatsoever.”

There are other channels to submit complaints to the city, he said.

“When it’s borderline harassment of some staff and affecting staff mental health and things like that, me as an employer, has to take that into account,” he said. “The intent isn’t to stifle people for their comments… it’s to ensure it’s used for the intent that it’s used for.”

 


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