Berwick MP strongly rejects Facebook censorship claims

Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has strongly refuted claims of censorship amid accusations that she has hidden dissenting comments on her Facebook page.

The row came to a head in the past fortnight after Mrs Trevelyan decided to break the link between her Facebook and Twitter accounts to make it easier to manage.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan's post to Facebook about offensive comments.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan's post to Facebook about offensive comments.

Prior to that, her tweets were automatically published onto her public Facebook page, but she had received complaints due to ‘some very offensive comments’ and the idea was to publish fewer updates to Facebook to make it easier for her or her team to keep track of what was being posted by others.

However, some Facebook users claim that their comments were hidden, not due to their being offensive, but because they were expressing political views opposed to Mrs Trevelyan’s own, for example, on the EU referendum.

On a Facebook page, comments can be hidden but they remain visible to the person that posted them as well as their friends. However, they are entirely invisible to anyone else so the Gazette cannot tell how many comments may or may not have been hidden on Mrs Treveylan’s page.

On a number of posts, users have subsequently written the phrase ‘Comments deleted’ where they claim comments have been hidden, but it is fair to say that this is largely from a small number of people whose comments turn up time and again.

It is also clear that if comments expressing opposing views or criticising Mrs Trevelyan have been hidden, not all of them have as a number can still be read on posts on the page.

Mrs Trevelyan told the Gazette: “I started to receive a number of calls and emails from local residents who were concerned that a small number of people were repeatedly posting comments containing offensive and sometimes racist language on stories posted to my Facebook page.

“I decided to remove the link between my Twitter feed and Facebook page so the posts would be less frequent to make it easier to monitor what was being said.

“I do not have time to spend my day policing Facebook and it would be a poor use of taxpayers’ money to ask my staff to divert their time from helping constituents to monitor the comments.

“The comments remain open and are only hidden if they are abusive. I don’t mind people using my Facebook page as a forum for debate, but children read that page and I won’t tolerate abusive language.

“If people feel they cannot express their view without being offensive, I would suggest my Facebook page is not the right place for them to articulate it.

“I have now received a string of messages from people fed up with the comments, thankful that I have taken action.

“I do not want to prevent people from commenting on my page so I have left comments open, but the best way to seek my view on an issue or ask for help is to call my office or to email me directly.”

Claims and counterclaims on page

April 7 – Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP posted: Due to some very offensive comments on this site, there will no longer be a direct feed from Anne-Marie’s Twitter account. If you wish to follow the Twitter feeds directly, Anne-Marie’s twitter tag is @annietrev.

Future posts to this Facebook page will be made by Anne-Marie or her staff directly, when time allows.

Some comments in response:

Lois Addy: Abuse and offensiveness is not appropriate in any medium, social or otherwise.

Trevor Smith: Sorry to hear that. While I don’t know Anne Marie personally she is a great MP who recently helped my family big time. I don’t agree with her on Europe but I respect her opinion and her right to it. Let’s hope she stays in touch with us in other ways as she is doing a very good job.

Mark Mather: Just the truth from me nothing rude or offensive maybe just can not hear the truth

Pauline Young: I have not seen any offensive comments.

Jose Snook: I am not sure what is offensive about a link to the NFU’s report about the impact of BREXIT? I see this was deleted.

Alison Seaward-Birchall: Sorry to hear. I’m not on twitter but I think some of the comments you get on your Facebook posts verge on the abusive at times. The one big downside of social media...trolling. Politics are divisive and politicians easy targets for the keyboard warriors. Good luck.

David Brown: I would like to apologise if my comments were offensive to AMT, that was never my intention,the referendum is very important and I was only hearing one side.

April 13 – Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP posted: To reiterate – my staff work full time on constituency matters. We review this facebook page a few times a week. We will hide comments we consider may be upsetting to other readers but we do not block anyone. If you have commented on a post we have hidden from other viewers you may continue to see it, as that is how facebook operates.