There is a difference between open communication accomplished through discussion and outright censorship.
Censorship is suppression of speech or other communication that may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the general body of people as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.
The City of Amsterdam Facebook page, created and maintained using public funds, has whitewashed comments to only include those that favor or praise the Mayor’s opinions. I have personally had all of my comments removed from the city run Facebook page and I have been locked out from commenting. The page, labeled as a governmental organization, started running advertisements for local business owned by those who support the Mayor. Two of the local business owners advertised are also elected city officials. My inquiries sent to the Mayor about the comment policy have not been answered. Corporation Council G. DeCusatis sees no ethical violation advertising local business owned by elected officials on a Facebook page created and maintained using public funds.
On March 5, 2011 Mayor Ann Thane made the following statement on the Flippin’ Amsterdam NY blog:
As I’d mentioned to Charlie, I pick and choose where I will post online. I’ve posted here (Flippin’ Amsterdam), at Pars Nova, Upstream, Krabcakes and Football, and even Mark Robarge’s now defunct site. I post regularly on FB. I appreciate discussion with individuals I respect (but don’t necessarily always agree with me) that have opinions I value. The rest of the local offerings are so relentlessly negative and devotedly misinformed, why bother even reading them? The last Amsterdam blog that espoused a continuously embittered harangue, slowly died of its own poison. Even the host couldn’t stand it anymore. Any one of us can complain and I am not beyond this practice. I aspire to better myself and get beyond this self-indulgence. It will take vision, optimism, research and thoughtful discourse to orchestrate a beautiful future. I prefer to join with the singers in that chorus.
What the Mayor fails to realize is that the world is not all songs and roses. This city has real problems that cannot be solved with a rose garden, a coat of paint or new curtains. Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi used censorship by controlling local media. He only broadcast news of the Libyan people singing, dancing and praising him, while his citizens were storming the center square demanding his ouster.
You cannot effectively run a city government with blinders on. Our elected officials must uphold ethical standards that apply to everyone equally. You cannot pick and choose who the city will serve, our government must serve every citizen regardless of the degree to which they faun over the Mayor.
Social media sites are the new town square where government gets feedback from its citizens and the same standards should apply.
I believe that a city run site should not censor or discriminate, that every taxpaying citizen has a right to voice their opinions whether or not they agree with the Mayor. I further assert that a governmental organization should not be advertising private business unless every local business is afforded the same opportunity.