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Kamloops mayor and council weigh in on Facebook debate

After the mayor of Victoria deleted her Facebook account, we asked city politicians if they're thinking of doing the same
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'I have faith that Facebook is a very large company; they can't be a bunch of idiots – they will fix the problem,' says Coun. Tina Lange.

It's safe to say Facebook is facing a variety of issues including fake news, data harvesting and people deleting their accounts as a result. 

The #DeleteFacebook trend has included Lisa Helps, the mayor of Victoria, who says it rewards anger.

Locally, many politicians are active on Facebook and other social media as a way to interact with citizens and stay abreast of issues around the city. KamloopsMatters spoke to the mayor and a few councillors about their thoughts on Facebook's current issues and moving away from the well-known social media platform.

 

"I'm currently reviewing my social media portfolio and deciding what to do with it," says Mayor Ken Christian. "Right now, my initial assessment is that Facebook is still the most widely used platform."

His concerns include privacy and access. Christian says it's "contaminated" and not meeting its original intent.

For now, he'll keep using it, but he's willing to delete it if there's enough of a reason; he'd move to Twitter and Instagram to continue having conversations about city issues and politics.

City councillors agreed that it's a valuable connection with the community.

Coun. Donovan Cavers agrees with Christian about privacy concerns and says the news coming out about Cambridge Analytica's acquisition and use of Facebook data meant he considered deleting the app.

"I think weighing the pros and cons, there's more positive at this point, but that could change if more information comes out," he says. "If Facebook eventually brushes off what's happened and ... doesn't change its procedures as a result of what happened then I would rethink it again."

Coun. Arjun Singh has concerns about the decorum on Facebook, with conversations often getting heated behind the keyboard, and thinks that was a bigger reason behind Helps' decision than Cambridge Analytica.

With social media becoming so massive, he says it's necessary to use it to stay in tune with the city, but individuals will have to choose their engagement. So far, the engagement outweighs any bad interactions he's had. 

"I do, from time to time, run into situations where people are quite aggressive in their views. It's a question of talking with folks and keeping the conversation in a respectful way," he says. "It usually works out so I find it quite useful."

Coun. Tina Lange counts on Facebook to keep her in the loop when it comes to public discourse.

"I like Facebook to see what people are saying," she says. "I count on it to get a flavour of what's happening out there."

She's less concerned about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and expects Facebook to deal with it if they're smart.

"I have faith that Facebook is a very large company; they can't be a bunch of idiots – they will fix the problem," she says. "I guess I'm not worried; maybe I should be. I think it'll get resolved, but maybe I'm a dreamer."

– with files from Canadian Press






Brendan Kergin

About the Author: Brendan Kergin

Brendan Kergin is a digital reporter based in Kamloops.
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