Comment worries put Dare Facebook page on hold
County officials, seeing the potential of social media to move information quickly, had set up a page and were ready to join Facebook’s worldwide online community.
But after Facebook went public on Wall Street earlier this year, it discontinued the option for site administrators to lock out comments.
While several departments, including Parks and Recreation, have their own Facebook pages, a countywide page was put on hold.
During a discussion of a new social media policy, county staffers and members of the Board of Commissioners focused on the resources involved in monitoring comments, potential legal liability and the risk of personal attacks.
“People can be very hurtful, and we seem to attract that,” Commissioner Allen Burrus said at Monday’s board meeting.
County Manager Bobby Outten said that the small public relations staff does not have the time or manpower to monitor and respond to comments.
“The problem with the comments, for me, is less the negative comment than it is managing the comments,” he said. “When you allow comments, then you create an expectation of responses when people send you information that’s topical . . .
“If you don’t have the staff and the people to respond and act on that information that’s coming in, then you shouldn’t put the medium out there to accept the comments.”
Individual departments with Facebook pages are required to monitor comments, and if one is deleted they must log and copy it. Problem visitors can be banned. The assigned administrator of the page also receives an e-mail alert of a posting.
While Facebook chatter can be an issue for governments, some websites are moving toward requiring commenters to sign up under their Facebook accounts rather than allowing anonymity or nicknames.
In lieu of Facebook, the county is offering other means to get information in addition to its website.
In an emergency such as a hurricane, the Emergency Management department will activate its own web page, Public Relations Director Dorothy Killingsworth said.
Users can also sign up for an RSS feed and automatically receive press releases by e-mail as soon as they are available.
“So I think our citizens and property owners and media, all folks, are really going to appreciate that feature,” she said.
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