‘A lot of hurtful messaging’: Central Saanich is deactivating its X accounts


Central Saanich residents will soon have one less social media feed to check for information on their community.

In April, the district will remove both its municipal and fire department accounts on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“The direction of the municipality is really refreshing because it’s kind of taking a step back and evaluating is this really as necessary as we thought it was,” Coun. Zeb King told CHEK News.

King said he’s noticed an increase in harassment and bullying on the app in recent years, adding it’s not an environment that’s consistent with the values of the municipality.

“There has been a lot of hurtful messaging,” he said. “The current owner has freed up sort of hate speech on that platform and there has been just an enormous amount of problems.”

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The increase in harmful online behaviour is now being studied at universities across the country.

Esteban Morales, a postdoctoral researcher for online harassment projects at Royal Roads University, said more than “30 per cent of Canadians have experienced a form of online harassment, abuse or violence on social media platforms.”

He explained there are a few reasons why there is an increase in hate and violence and platforms like X.

Morales said the platform has changed its content moderation policies which is allowing harmful comments to circulate.

He added this has created a culture shift online where people feel there are no consequences because their accounts aren’t being flagged or banned.

“We are seeing more and more organizations leave, we are seeing others inactivating their accounts so you can see their profiles but they are not really posting anything,” Morales said.

“I think we are going to keep seeing that more and more as long as the platform continues to not address these occurrences.”

In an email to CHEK News, the district said there haven’t been any specific instances of harassment that precipitated this departure.

“We have been monitoring the engagement with our account, and this platform is no longer one we will feel our resources are well put towards,” the email reads.

King added that this reduction of social media presence won’t hurt the municipality’s communication with residents as a recent survey of the community found most residents rely on the district’s website for information.

“We also send out a newsletter, you know, an old-fashioned paper newsletter, that seems to be popular and works,” he added.

The district also has no plans of abandoning its Facebook or Instagram accounts.

Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

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