ACPS disables Facebook comments after threats

Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) disabled comments on its Facebook page Friday citing an increase in personal attacks and inappropriate comments as the reason.

“Due to a significant and disturbing increase in personal attacks and other highly-inappropriate postings, Alachua County Public Schools is disabling comments on this page, effective immediately,” a post made Friday afternoon stated.

“Many comments violate our Civility and Bullying and Harassment policies as well as the guidelines clearly posted on this page.”

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According to the Facebook page guidelines, “Alachua County Public Schools encourages all users to interact with each other in a meaningful, constructive and respectful manner on ACPS social media channels, which includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

“Posts that are off-topic, abusive, profane, threatening, racist, sexist, religiously-offensive or personal attacks will be deleted. Account administrators reserve the right to review all comments and posted materials and remove such materials for any reason.”

In Friday’s statement, the ACPS wrote, “The district recognizes the value of Facebook in sharing important information about our schools with the public. Unfortunately, hostility and harassment have become increasingly common in the comments section.

“We are particularly concerned about personal attacks directed by some commenters toward other commenters. This includes name-calling and the sharing of personal information, such as the commenter’s address and even the school attended by their students. There have also been threats against school district staff.”

Alachua County disabled comments on its Facebook page on Oct. 15 for similar reasons.

The county announced on its Facebook page that, “In light of recent disclosures about the algorithms used by social media to encourage hatred, conflict, misleading and false information, and dangerous behaviors; the County has decided to turn off the comment function on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts. The default setting on future posts will be to disallow comments.”

The ACPS will monitor other social media accounts to determine if they will shut those comments off as well.

“The district will continue to monitor its Twitter and Instagram accounts to determine if comments should be disabled on those platforms as well,” the ACPS stated.

“Alachua County Public Schools is not willing to provide a forum for some citizens to insult, intimidate or threaten their fellow-citizens.”

Citizens may continue to share their questions and concerns through email, phone calls, the district’s website, public comments at School Board meetings and other means, the ACPS said.

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