The Town of The Blue Mountains will have a Facebook page, but public comments will not be allowed.
The Blue Mountains council voted in favour of a comment-free Facebook page at its meeting on May 10. Council was presented with two options by town staff: allow comments for a trial basis of three months (with comments about the 2022 municipal election disabled), with staff monitoring/moderating during regular business hours or no comments allowed at all for three months. Town staff said they would report back to council after the three month period with more data.
Council instead chose to move forward with the Facebook page with no comments allowed and staff will report back to the new council in January 2023.
Members of council indicated concerns about staff being responsible for determining which public comments would be allowed.
“I worry the attempt to de-politicize the site politicizes the staff because they’re making the decision,” said Councillor Rob Sampson. “It’s either on or off. There is no half solution here.”
Councillor Paula Hope favoured the three-month trial with comments from the public allowed.
“Facebook is a two-way communication tool. Let’s see if our community can manage itself,” said Hope, who questioned the point of a Facebook page without comments. “It essentially becomes a website.”
Manager of Communications and Economic Development Tim Hendry said he has had a number of conversations with staff at the Town of Wasaga Beach about Facebook. Wasaga Beach recently made the decision to turn comments off on its Facebook page, but the page continues to function as a resource for the community.
“Facebook is a very popular tool. Whether comments are allowed or disabled, my perspective is there is significant value in maintaining that Facebook page,” said Hendry.
Council voted 4-2 in favour of staff creating a Facebook page with commenting disabled. Staff plan to have the page in place by the end of the second quarter of 2022. Mayor Alar Soever and Hope voted against, with Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon absent.
Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca