Journalism

Newspaper Threatens to Delete Derogatory Comments on Facebook

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On the heels of my post about the unnecessary roughness with which some people seem to delight in dealing with one another, I present the story of a newspaper staff promising to delete nasty comments from their organization’s Facebook page.

The Hanford Sentinel’s Facebook page features a post from someone who says she’s the executive editor of the paper, with a note to those “who feel the need to slam” them on their own page:

“Yes, you will be deleted. If someone posted a derogatory comment on your personal, or business, page, wouldn’t you? Would you call that “censorship?” Just because we’re a news media outlet, doesn’t mean we can be insulted on our own page.”

She goes on to give an email address for questions and concerns.

Good move? I think the majority of us would choose to delete particularly nasty comments from our personal page, unless we wanted to keep the remark public then make a show of answering in kind. If you own a business and have a Facebook page for that, you have to ask yourself how much you’re going to allow customers to speak out at your own expense with the possibility of turning away would-be customers who’ve come to your page to find out more about you.

In this case, those who seem to want to be able to “slam” them as they please, naturally, don’t think so. One commenter said, “Sound like the Sentinel can’t handle criticism. Isn’t that just like the media. U can delete me. I never believe the media. Esp liberals.”

Isn’t that just like media critics?

This guy, who says he never believes the media, managed to see the post to begin with and only a little more than an hour after it first appeared. Why was he looking? If he doesn’t believe the media — and sees the need to throw in the “liberal” line, which can only mean he is trying to label this paper as being liberal — what’s he doing on the paper’s Facebook page to begin with? He’s already said he believes the paper can’t be trusted: so why’s he wasting his time?

It’s a shame that we’ve come to this level of negativity. There was a time when people who didn’t like something or didn’t trust someone went somewhere else. Didn’t like a source of information? They found another one. Didn’t enjoy someone’s company? They met other people. Didn’t trust someone as far as they could throw them? They trusted different people instead.

Now, it would seem, rudeness has become a sport.

Who knows: maybe by 2016, it will become an Olympic sport! We certainly have enough would-be medalists out there ready to line up.

Your Turn:

Do you think it’s reasonable for an organization to delete negative comments if they wish? Or should every public interaction — even the negative ones — stay public?

4 Comments

  1. I think they should delete particularly nasty comments -but not criticism if that is all it is.  There’s a fine line, I’ll admit, and that is up to those involved but I’m not fond of censoring people who just disagree. 

  2. There’s a difference between negative and derogatory, healthy criticism and running one’s mouth just to keep warm and feel superior.
    I haven’t been to the page in question, but I’m willing to bet sooner or later someone will make a reference to free speech and how this newspaper is supposedly thwarting it; as if acting like an ass was what the Framers had in mind with the First Amendment.

    1.  @msalakka Actually, if you think about it, unpopular speech may have been the sort of thing that the founding fathers <i>did</i> have in mind.  After all, we don’t need the 1st amendment to allow people to voice more popular opinions but to allow those who may have other thoughts to have their say, as well.
       

  3. I think that it is OK to delete derogatory or personal attack comments, but it is not OK to delete negative comments. If you are going to have comments, then you have to take the good with the bad.
     
    However, I do not feel that newspapers should have comments on their website, that is what “Letters to the Editor” is for. When I submit a letter to the editor, I get a callback to verify I am who I say I am (I stopped getting calls from them, they probably say, “It her again!”).

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.