Alachua County disables comments on social media

Social media sites for Alachua County no longer allow followers to post comments as of Oct. 15.

The announcement for the new policy was published on the county Facebook page, which is followed by more than 97,000 users.

The county has experienced problems in the past and, at the Sept. 1 Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, the topic was addressed about preventing comments due to what it felt were conspiracy theories and false information about COVID-19 pandemic issues.  

“Alachua County social media sites are primarily tools to share information with citizens,” the notice states. “It is not the County’s intent for posts to be public forums. We do not view these sites as a way to communicate directly with elected officials or County staff.”

The statement goes on to explain 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.”

When the public views a post on Facebook, they will see the following message: “Alachua County limited who can comment on this post.”

According to the notice, “The limitation is that only Alachua County can make comments. Unfortunately, Facebook does not allow for a more straightforward message to display automatically.”

The same is true of Alachua County’s presence on Instagram and Twitter, where the “comment function is disabled without a clarifying message.”

“From time to time, the County Manager, or her designee, may use posts to solicit feedback or to poll residents on specific topics. In these cases, comments may be enabled,” according to the county.

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