Social media a vital tool, despite risk of abuse

Coun Matt Rogers

Coun Matt Rogers

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Driffield town council has decided to continue its use of social media - despite the threat of abuse from internet trolls.

Councillors were told on Tuesday that derogatory comments about the authority had been posted on Facebook.

joan cooper

joan cooper

But they felt the abuse was small scale, and the ability social media gave them to spread a positive message about their work outweighed any negativity.

Support for social media came just hours before news broke that former footballer Stan Collymore had accused Twitter of not doing enough to combat abusive messages after he was targeted by internet trolls - people who send abusive messages over the web.

The town council set up Facebook and Twitter accounts last year with an agreement to review the situation in January.

Coun Matt Rogers said: “Obviously, we did this with baited breath to see what happened and I think that overall it has been relatively positive.

Coun Joyce Fletcher

Coun Joyce Fletcher

“I think we have to keep an open mind in all networks that people have access to. You are going to get some hostility on it. But in this day and age we need to keep up with the times. It is a good medium for getting stuff out there quickly and I would like to propose that we keep Driffield town council on Facebook certainly, whether we are on Twitter is another argument.”

The clerk, Claire Binnington, said: “I try and do a post every day but I don’t. Today we have had a dog fouling debate on Facebook, so every now and then I will go on and put our side of it.

“I have to say that we have not really had any hostility. We have had people’s views but that is what it is all about. Just because views are not in line with what we think does not mean to say that they are not valid. But it has been a great opportunity to put people right on a lot of misnomers on us and what we do and what we can and cannot do.”

Coun Joyce Fletcher raised concern that business people were attempting to advertise on the town council Facebook page, but Mrs Binnington said such posts were quickly removed and Facebook friendship requests were only accepted from individuals and market traders.

Coun Joan Cooper said: “When my daughter plugged into it over Christmas, there were comments on it and they were not very nice comments at all.

“They were degrading. They did not name councillors in particular but they were not suggestive but, well, detrimental - put it that way.

“It is all right saying it’s the new coffee shop as it were, but you wouldn’t slag folks off in the coffee shop.

“I think ought like that should be wiped off before it even goes on because it is just encouraging more and more.

Coun Cooper added: “I am open to criticism. It does not bother me, but I prefer people to come and see me and, yes, I will accept it or reject it or whatever.”

Mrs Binnington said: “I have never seen anything that has slagged any of you off. All they have done is commented on stories that they have seen in the press.”

Coun Steve Poessl said that councillors were bound by the code of conduct when making comment on social media.

“I don’t use Facebook, I use Twitter. I have made some really good friends and have had some good conversations about different things and I have never had anything bad come on that.”

“But I am careful who I go on to follow and who I don’t.”

Coun Rogers proposed that the council remain on Facebook and Twitter, seconded by Coun Georgina Lucas, and Coun Fletcher suggested the situation be reviewed in a further six months. The motion was passed



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