EDITORIAL – Time to reconsider City’s decision to ban Facebook comments
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
COMMUNICATION is a two-way street. It’s an exchange, a receiving as well as giving of information.
Kamloops City Hall sometimes forgets that. New proof came during a council meeting when the City’s Communication and Community Engagement Division was providing an update on its activities.
In a section on social media, it was noted that comments on the City’s Facebook page were disabled a year ago “due to the decline in civility on this platform and its negative impact on staff’s mental health, job seekers’ perception of Kamloops, the participation level of respectful users, and the spread of misinformation.”
I said at the time the decision was made that political organizations and public bodies aren’t exempt from the unpleasant nastiness rampant on social media but that it can, with diligence, be controlled by an organization as large and well-staffed as the City of Kamloops.
The Communications division should certainly be able to handle it. Chase, Ashcroft and Cache Creek — tiny communities compared to Kamloops, and with fewer resources — all accept comments on their Facebook pages.
At the other end of the population scale, in Vancouver — not exactly a hotbed of civility — comments are allowed on the City’s Facebook page.
A municipal communications department isn’t only about sending out information. It’s about getting feedback from those being served. A Facebook page that sends but doesn’t receive is doing only half the job.
If you’d rather control the message than facilitate discussion, shut down comments on your Facebook page, limit what people are allowed to ask council about at its meetings, hold press conferences at which questions aren’t allowed, and stage “open houses” instead of open information meetings.
When the presenter was asked during the recent update if Facebook comments might be reinstated, the answer was they will not, due in part to a lack of time to moderate them. So staff has decided.
Sorry, but that’s not effective communication, nor is it engagement.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served as mayor of Kamloops, school board chair and TNRD director, and is a retired daily newspaper editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Seems like the councilors only want to hear from the public at election time 😦
Good for you to bring this important issue back from behind the curtains. It is well known Mr. Trawin and his colleagues detest being called out on the (often) questionable decisions they make.