C’mon, Nikki. Put ’em on….
There’s been a lot of buzz lately here in South Carolina over our Governor, Nikki Haley, and the deletion of posts and banning of posters under the guise of eliminating “Hate Speech” on her Facebook Page. Some have defended her with the argument that since it is her page, she has a right to do as she pleases. Others have scorned her, contending that due to the transparent nature of social media, she shouldn’t have deleted less-than-favorable posts. Since many of you have asked for my take, I’d like to offer my thoughts on the presence as a whole, as well as this issue in particular.
First, everyone in public life who creates a fan page should first develop a social media policy to govern both the content they post, as well as what is acceptable for others to post. This holds true for businesses as well. These terms can be stated on the page’s info section. A Haley Spokesperson is reported as saying that the Haley Administration has no social media policy to guide them. That’s mistake number one – not having guidelines in place. She reportedly does her own updates, and mixes personal vignettes with tidbits on state news – primarily what she considers accomplishments under her leadership. There’s the occasional somber post – completely appropriate when there is sad news, or to commemorate a sober holiday such as Memorial Day. Fair enough – can’t find fault with this approach in and of itself. The tone of posts is friendly and conversational. In many ways, the page has the hallmarks of a good and engaging presence. Her fan base is quite large – we can attribute that to her position, obviously.
Where, then, has Haley gone wrong? Part of the fault lies in the broad brush with which she seems to be defining “hate speech.” As I’ve said here before, there are instances when deleting comments is warranted; those which are profane and serve no other purpose than to threaten, demean, defame or debase can certainly be deleted. Trouble is, some of the comments in question were merely critical of how Haley is doing her job, or questioning her priorities. Some of these comments have been deleted, some completely ignored. Criticism is part of the landscape in politics whether it occurs on a Facebook Page or in other mediums. What’s missing here is a thoughtful, objective, and nuanced approach in responding to criticism. If Haley is unable or unwilling to respond herself, she should have someone do it for her. This person could provide clarification, resources, and even a sounding board where needed. While you can’t please everyone and there will always be trolls to contend with, I think Haley is missing a golden opportunity to build a bridge with at least some of her critics. Sanitizing her page to the degree that she has makes her appear childish and thin-skinned. There’s a better way, and she needs to embrace it. Now.
Well, that’s my take. Have I missed anything? I’d love your feedback and thoughts. What would you do in this situation?