Elkhart disables all Facebook comments

NOW: Elkhart disables all Facebook comments

ELKHART, Ind.-- The City of Elkhart is disabling all Facebook comments on their social media account!

ABC57 spoke with Corinne Straight, the city's director of communications. She declined an on-camera interview saying the decision was long-awaited, informed by legal consultants, and their approach to what she calls an overwhelming number of hateful comments. She says it was getting too subjective and too time-consuming to monitor.

The city posted the following Monday:

The City of Elkhart utilizes its Facebook pages to share information and engage with our constituents.

We will continue to use all city pages with that goal in mind, however, commenting on future posts will not be allowed.

The same practice will be in place for all public meetings moving forward. While meetings will stream on Facebook, all comments and participation will be done via WebEx and a link to the meeting will be provided in the Facebook descriptions of each meeting post.

Questions? Please send us a direct message or email [email protected].

Straight said the hateful comments and fighting were getting out of hand.

But turning off comments is not stopping the online chatter. Some call the move censorship, and some criticize a lack of transparency.

But Straight is defending the move, citing this guidance from the ACLU of Indiana's website: "an official speaking as a government actor cannot limit interactions based on viewpoint, but they can limit other kinds of interactions. [...] in other words, government officials may have no obligation to open the social media account up for public comment, but if they do, they cannot discriminate as to which views get to be expressed in those comments."

ABC57 also posed the question to Indiana's Public Access Counselor, Luke Britt.

"Disabling social media comments is usually not an issue unless those comments are cherry-picked for content," Britt said in an email to ABC57. "If an agency chooses not to create a public forum at all, that is at their discretion, generally speaking."

The city maintains the public can still direct message, email, call, attend public meetings, and more.

Share this article: