Federal government blocking social media users, quietly deleting posts

Porn, spam and hate among the top reasons cited for blocking Facebook and Twitter users

By Elizabeth Thompson, CBC News

Canadian government departments have quietly blocked nearly 22,000 Facebook and Twitter users, with Global Affairs Canada accounting for nearly 20,000 of the blocked accounts, CBC News has learned.

Moreover, nearly 1,500 posts — a combination of official messages and comments from readers — have been deleted from various government social media accounts since January 2016.

However, there could be even more blocked accounts and deleted posts. In answer to questions tabled by Opposition MPs in the House of Commons, several departments said they don’t keep track of how often they block users or delete posts.

It is not known how many of the affected people are Canadian.

It’s also not known how many posts were deleted or users were blocked prior to the arrival of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

But the numbers shed new light on how Ottawa navigates the world of social media — where it can be difficult to strike a balance between reaching out to Canadians while preventing government accounts from becoming a destination for porn, hate speech and abuse.

The numbers came as Environment Minister Catherine McKenna found herself in a social media firestorm over a tweet from her official departmental account on Tuesday which praised Syria for joining the Paris climate change agreement.

McKenna BC 20170824

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna came under fire Tuesday for a tweet from her departmental account praising Syria for joining the Paris climate accord. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

But while McKenna announced very publicly that that tweet had been deleted, the numbers tabled in the House of Commons reveal there were 97 other posts deleted from that department’s accounts between Jan. 1, 2016 and Sept. 18, 2017.

In the department’s answer, signed by McKenna, it said posts were deleted that were inconsistent with Treasury Board guidelines or “when it was necessary to correct errors in information, grammar or visual imagery, to clarify or more accurately reflect a priority, or to ensure adequate service in both official languages.” The Treasury Board sets rules for government communications, including social media.

“Social media moves quickly and sometimes mistakes happen.”

But the environment department isn’t the only one that has deleted an awkward tweet.

full story at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/twitter-facebook-socialmedia-porn-1.4394127

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