The city of Wetaskiwin said it will take further actions to combat misinformation online.Greg Burns

The City of Wetaskiwin is trying to take steps to curb misinformation in the community. 

Council approved a motion at its Feb. 26 meeting to start the process. 

According to a March 14 media release, the city has developed terms of engagement to govern its official social media platforms. Comments that contain misinformation or are abusive in nature will be removed, and users may be blocked from City accounts if they persistently violate the terms of engagement. 

“In response to the increasing prevalence and harmful impact of misinformation within the community, City Council has directed Administration to adopt a robust approach to address the issue,” the city said in a media release on March 14. 

“Recognizing the potential harm and divisiveness caused by false information, Council aims to uphold the principles of a healthy democracy and protect the well-being of both citizens and City employees.” 

The city said it also plans on announcing more initiatives to combat misinformation. 

“The rapidly changing digital landscape makes it harder and harder to tell what’s intentionally created to mislead and what is unintentionally misleading,” the city said in the release. 

Several community members spoke out over the weekend against the policy. One resident, who requested anonymity, questioned who determines what is misinformation. 

“Who decides what’s misinformation? If it is something you don’t like it is misinformation?” said the resident. 

“I don’t like censorship, and this is censorship,” she added. 

Another resident said that no one should be blocked from a public page for sharing their ideas. 

“They shouldn’t block you just because you don’t agree with them. Negative or positive, it should be your right to voice your opinion as far as I am concerned,” they said. 

Another resident’s first impression after reading the whole statement was that the city only wants positive comments and not negative ones. 

“If they don’t like the comments, they don’t care. They just do it their way [and delete the comments], no matter what,” he said. 

On the city’s Facebook page, terms of engagement read that “the City of Wetaskiwin maintains sole discretion to determine which content is inappropriate or may be removed. Wherever possible, the city will notify users if their comment is removed and invite them to reframe and repost appropriately.” 

By Qiam Noori, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 18, 2024 at 15:40

This item reprinted with permission from   Ponoka News   Ponoka News, Alberta

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