The City of Port Alberni has banned comments on its social media platforms after some commenters violated a social media policy, according to the CAO.
“While most people online are respectful, some content clearly violates City policy,” said Mike Fox, Port Alberni’s chief administrative officer.
The city announced the decision to disable comments on Friday, Dec. 8, noting that city staff has “the right to remove comments containing language that is considered harassment, bullying, racism, hate speech, or contains violent threats towards staff and council members…”
However, the city says current staffing capacity means it “cannot adequately monitor these sites effectively to allow for proper civic engagement.”
The city is on Facebook, X, YouTube and Instagram, and latest posts on Facebook, for example, say the “City of Port Alberni Local Government limited who can comment on this post.”
The city’s social media policy was developed in 2018 after a councillor used a fake name to praise himself online.
Fox says the city needs to “strike the right balance” between civic engagement and providing a safe, respectful environment for staff members and council on social media.
“The City will continue to post information on its social media accounts to keep residents informed about events, operations, and City matters but comments will be disabled,” reads a release.
The city did not disclose specifics about the comments that violated city policy, so CHEK News has reached out for more information and will update this story if a response is received.
Councillors in Langford, meanwhile, have been in a similar situation. It’s something that city’s mayor called “simply unacceptable.”
In June, Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson said death threats against councillors prompted the city to enact a new social media policy that provides “clear guidelines” for staff, the public and council on how to communicate on social media.
The City of Port Alberni says people can still share their ideas and opinions on city policies by attending live or online council meetings, reaching out to the mayor or council members via email or phone, or visiting city facilities for general information.