Censorship in Palmetto Bay on its Social Media, Facebook site? Say it ain't so Brian!
This action of failing to set appropriate policy and allowing censorship of open public discourse on social media sites by current Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser is yet another text book example of bad leadership and here is why:
Several residents have brought up the issue including one who has just recently posted the following to her personal Facebook page:
"Residents comments are being DELETED from the Village of Palmetto Bay's FB page and residents are being BLOCKED from posting. Censorship violates the First Amendment."
I am shocked that this council does not realize that there is a records retention law. That free speech exists and that if you put up a billboard, sometimes someone may come along and post something you don't necessarily like. Social media is like a bulletin board and, because its not private when run by a government, Officials cannot simply remove what you don't like. That is censorship and it is wrong. I personally ran into the issue weeks ago with threats of deleting comments on the same official Palmetto Bay Facebook page, comments were made on the Thalatta Estate park issue, the resident versus Mayor and Council plans to repurpose a park obtained with State tax dollar grants to, as outspoken residents say it, a for profit wedding venue
I looked up the issue on the Internet and found an interesting article posted online by the Kaspersky Lab Security News Service, the threat post, Study Finds China Censorship of SocialMedia is Real, Pervasive. which published, quote, A study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has concluded that Chinese social media sites are deleting messages with content that might be construed as controversial by the Communist Party - the first conclusive evidence that state censorship extends to social media sites like Sina Weibo, the popular micro blogging Web site that many have likened to a Chinese Twitter.
My first though was “really”? Is little Palmetto Bay really engaging in conduct as sinister as China? So instead of being compared to neighboring Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay can now be compared with China.
This is another shame of this current self-proclaimed "Transparency" government. Mayor Stanczyk lists herself on the official Palmetto Bay website bio as “…a strong supporter of transparency in governmentand public involvement.” This is listed under Accomplishments and Initiatives, and appearing quite Kafkaesque. Really? I guess so long as she agrees with the direction the public is going, otherwise she has a record of allowing her committees to fail to keep the public advised (See SDM, April 6, 2012, Charter Revision Committee: Outta Sight!). Mr. Pariser is a licensed attorney. He should know better about public records law and should be fighting to protect, not suppress free speech.
I say it is time to stop the censorship. I created the official Village of Palmetto Bay FB page years ago, knowing that sometimes there may be comments that one may not like, but it comes with the territory. It was supposed to promote dialogue, not just be a vehicle for fluff feel good pro-government news.
We are living in 2012, not 1984. Why create any issues when there are so many good things going on.