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“Social media isn’t the place for serious debate”

“Social media isn’t the place for serious debate”

Thursday 16 July 2020

“Social media isn’t the place for serious debate”


Tempting as it may be to wade into a heated online debate, politicians should recognise that Facebook and Twitter are not the right forums for reasoned discussion, according to the man tasked with keeping an eye on their behaviour.

Commissioner for Standards Paul Kernaghan made his comments after dealing with a complaint against Deputy Montfort Tadier made by a member of the public over comments the politician had made in the Politics Jersey Facebook group.

With the legitimacy, funding and fate of the Sir George Carteret statue in St Peter still dividing opinion, Deputy Tadier contributed to an online debate last month, which prompted a number of complaints.

Four were quickly dismissed by Mr Keraghan because he concluded that the politician was simply expressing an opinion, but a fifth was more detailed and serious: alleging that Deputy Tadier had indirectly mocked victims of child abuse in Jersey. 

George_de_Carteret_statue.jpg

Pictured: Some of the comments were in relation to the debate over the Sir George Carteret statue, which was recently covered in paint.

After hearing the Deputy's defence, Mr Kernaghan judged that he had not stepped over the line, but the Commissioner offered clear words of advice to all politicians:

“Deputy Tadier has clarified the background to his posts and I am satisfied that he did not breach the Code of Conduct by his actions.

"He acknowledged that he has learnt a lesson about social media postings, and I believe many opinion formers worldwide have realised that truncated posting fora are often poor environments for detailed, nuanced, and complex debates." 

montfort-tadier.jpg

Deputy Montfort Tadier joined an online debate on the Politics Jersey Facebook page.

The Commissioner added that, as a rule, he had no interest in investigating online exchanges, except when such factors as bad language or 'malicious intent' came into play.

Previously, he has said that his role is not to rule on 'Twitter spats' which lend themselves to 'frivolous and vexatious' complaints.

Pictured top: Commissioner for Standards Paul Kernaghan.

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Posted by nigel pearce on
I don't read either Facebook or Twitter and totally agree that the politicians should not conduct their (our) business via either.
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