Op/Ed – Victoria Mayor Not The First To Leave Facebook – It Happened In Chilliwack

Fraser Valley – Facebook has a lot of great benefits to it’s posts. But it can also be a minefield for trolls and other foolish people who think they can say anything they want and not fear the consequences of the law.

Sometimes it goes too far.

Over the past week, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps announced that she is leaving Facebook (but not all social media). In a recent blog she wrote: When I became mayor, Facebook was still a civil place. It was a place where I could share ideas and get good feedback, where dialogue happened. I remember getting off Facebook and saying to a friend, “That was a really good conversation.” But all of this has changed.

There are many in cyber space that feel anyone, from politicians to sports figures to media (FVN has our fair share of trolls) can blast away and not get into trouble.

Back in 2014, as the Municipal Elections were heating up, Chilliwack Mayor Gaetz also dealt with the trolls. The vitriol on her Facebook page reached the ridiculous point, where Gaetz shut down her page. She remains on Twitter and Instagram.

Gaetz told FVN: I read Mayor Helps’ blog and respect her for her choice to keep communicating with her constituents but to eliminate one social media platform that was not working for her. It seems we both prefer to meet with people face to face and to provide opportunities for our citizens that provide a more meaningful engagement with us and with our councils and our staff. Do I miss Facebook? Sometimes. However, since breaking up with Facebook I have been able to spend more time with people I love doing the things that I love. In light of the appalling lack of protection for the users of this social media platform and the frightening breach of privacy for at least 50 million users, I think many people are questioning whether or not to engage on Facebook. I have not eliminated all social media. I am active on Instagram and Twitter.

Wait! Can’t I say ANYTHING on Facebook, let alone social media?

There is a legal Canadian precedent that you should be aware of.

In 2013, when now Calgary Flames President Brian Burke (and former part owner of the now defunct WHL Chilliwack Bruins) was still with the Toronto Maple Leafs, there were trolls who claimed he was fired from the Leafs by falsely claiming he had an affair with Sportsnet Anchor Hazel Mae and she was pregnant with his child (Burke is married to CTV and former Vancouver CKVU anchor Jennifer Mather-Burke).

Not only was that false, Burke won a default judgment in B.C. Supreme Court against five online posters (it started with 18 names).

We at FVN can totally empathize with the Victoria Mayor, Chilliwack’s Mayor and Mr Burke. We take our fair share of heat as well. But be forewarned, social media, let alone Facebook is not a free for all.

Think about that before you hit….. “send”.


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