Grapevine says sorry


The administrator of Te Awamutu’s Grapevine page took down a series of offensive posts relating to Waipā District Council after being alerted to them by the Te Awamutu News last week.

And there are new plans in place to monitor comments more closely.

At a committee meeting on Tuesday last week Cr Susan O’Regan read a series of hostile posts to councillors to underline the abuse meted out during a consultation process for a revamp of Memorial Park in Te Awamutu.

Jessica Fowlie, who is an administrator of the Te Awamutu Grapevine Facebook page, said she discussed with moderators an email sent by the News which quoted the comments.

“Once the allegations from our members regarding the council and its employees were brought to our attention, we proceeded to find the comments that were quoted in your email to Bernard [Westerbaan, page moderator] as a first point of action,” she told the News.

“We found that, yes, there was some abusive messages aimed at council and its procedures, however the wordings were substantially different.

“We do not allow swearing or abbreviations of swear words of any kind in the Te Awamutu Region Community Grapevine. To ensure we police this fairly and timely we have keyword moderation alerts.

Every post and comment with profanities in it sends a notification to all the admin team, alerting us to the situation to which my moderators are quick to deal with the problem within a few minutes.

She said some “key words” which were not previously listed on an alert system had now been added to alert moderators “to ensure that this problem does not happen again.”

She agreed that some of the comments removed were hostile and possibly defamatory.

She said the page had always welcomed freedom of speech “as long as it wasn’t targeting someone personally or could jeopardise their safety as this is part of the rules members have to agree upon prior to joining.”

She said she was disappointed with the behaviour of some members and apologised to the council and counterparts. If the situation arose again the possibility of membership being revoked was “very high”.

She suggested the comments indicated a lack of faith in the council and councillors.

“People have these opinions as they have at one point or another been let down by the council or councillors, so it would make more sense to initiate a campaign to win back those people and see where the council as a whole could maybe improve in areas.”

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