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Ald. Tunney Changes Social Media Policy After Posts Deleted From Facebook

By Serena Dai | January 31, 2014 6:56am
 A staffer of 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney deleted comments from residents on his Facebook page that asked about safety and crime issues.
Tunney Facebook Comment Removals
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LAKEVIEW — Ald. Tom Tunney's staff has taken steps to formalize its social media policy after a controversy in which constituents' comments were removed from his Facebook page, a staffer said.

Erin Duffy, director of community outreach in the 44th Ward office, usually manages the page and was out of town earlier this week, she said. Several other staff members can control the Facebook account, though, so the group had a conversation "to make sure everyone's on the same page," she said.

"It's hard when you have a lot of people with access to it," Duffy said. "We talked about the ground rules for it."

One person on staff who swears he doesn't touch it? Tunney himself.

"I don't do Facebook. I don't do Twitter. I get work done," the alderman told DNAinfo Chicago after directing a reporter to talk to Duffy instead. "We made an apology and that's enough said on it."

Duffy, who's worked in the office for a little more than a year, said she has personally never deleted a comment, despite allegations that constituent posts have been removed. Comments are only removed if they contain profanity or are racist and offensive, she said.

But other staff members theoretically have access to remove posts, she said.

After residents and crime blog Crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown pointed out that comments referring to crime were being deleted this week, the staff made sure to institute a policy that only offensive posts will be deleted, she said.

She did not know why only posts on crime were deleted by the staff member. She declined to say whether the person was reprimanded.

"It is an internal matter and has been handled by the alderman," she said in an email.

The Facebook page was created in 2008. Tunney's office sees it as another way to communicate with residents beyond the website and email newsletter, Duffy said.

In the future, Duffy and other Tunney staffers plan to do more with social media, like posting photos and updates — "a day in the life of the alderman kind of stuff," she said.

And they do plan to respond to people who post on the page as much as they can.

"We’re hoping to have a great social media platform moving forward," Duffy said.