‘Thinly veiled death threats’ against Langford council prompts social media policy

Photo credit: Nicholas Pescod

Langford’s mayor says death threats against councillors have 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 policy, approved at Monday’s council meeting, “sets the tone and expectations around acceptable use of and engagement practices through city social media accounts,” according to Mayor Scott Goodmanson.

He says that recently there has been “utterly inappropriate dialogue online, including thinly veiled death threats, to members of council.”

It’s “simply unacceptable,” said Goodmanson.

“(It will) not be tolerated. It is alarming and very disappointing that some members of the public believe it is acceptable to act in such an appalling manner towards elected officials,” he said in a statement.

All councillors voiced their support of the new policy, including Coun. Kimberley Guiry

“I’ve, unfortunately, already had experience with this type of dialogue, and it’s validating to know that I’m encouraged to create a safe space on our social media interactions,” said Guiry at the meeting.

The city says the policy “defines the overall purpose of social media used for city business and the nature of respectful, safe, and constructive dialogue.” It also highlights safeguards regarding personal information and privacy.

“It’s not just negative feedback, it’s bullying, harassment, personal attacks, and it’s not okay,” said an emotional Coun. Mary Wagner.

“I can’t begin to express how inappropriate that is, that these comments exist and people like them,” added Guiry.

Goodmanson says the policy will allow for “more robust two-way public engagement, a high priority for council, while ensuring a safe and respectful environment for everyone participating.”

To increase public engagement, the city plans to establish a Facebook page that adheres to the policy to ensure “accurate, transparent, current and publicly accessible information on city policies, programs and services.”

The page should launch in the coming weeks alongside the public engagement program “Let’s Chat Langford,” which will be accessed via this website.

“We’ve not had a presence on social media yet. Now we are there,” added Goodmanson.

Ethan Morneau

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