It goes without saying that social media is playing an even more pivotal role in elections allowing candidates to connect directly to voters.  Our upcoming municipal election on October 22 will be no exception and in this post and others to follow, we will take a deeper look into social media use.

As Marshall McLuhan once stated:  “The medium is the message” and with the role of social media as discussed above, it’s worth examining the medium and how it is being used.

If we observe something interesting or receive an intriguing submission from readers, we will look into the matter and occasionally post a “social media audit” as part of our election posts.

Among the pages we have been watching has been the “Re-Elect” Facebook page of Regional Councillor Tony Quirk.  The initial problem we spotted with this page was that on numerous posts, the comment count did not always match the number of comments visible. Take the following post for example.

Did you spot it?  There are 5 comments on the post… yet only 1 is visible.

For those who might not be aware of the graces of Facebook, page owners/admins have the capability to “hide” or “delete” comments and replies.  The difference between the two is that a hidden comment is still visible, but only to the page admin and the commentator (not the public) and is still included in the comment count.

In full disclosure, we try not to censor any comments on our site or Facebook, even if they are in opposition to our posts.  There have been a few instances where a comment contained improper language or had content that crossed the line of decency, in which case some editorial control was unavoidable.

Those are legitimate reasons for moderating comments and with an election, social media can often be an outlet for “keyboard cowboys” writing things they would normally not say in person.  So to that extent we wanted to give this candidate the benefit of the doubt.  That is until tonight…

Upon viewing Mr. Quirk’s latest post regarding getting a new/renovated hospital this author noted another comment count that “didn’t add up”.  Here is how the comments appeared:

It appears that Mr. Quirk is replying to himself, but while there is in fact 6 comments, only 5 are showing.

In this case, the hidden comment was from one of our regular contributors who had posted a genuine comment with questions and observations as below:

Rather than addressing the comment, it was simply hidden and a trivial reply posted.  An opportunity for Mr. Quirk to expound and articulate his position to voters was lost.

An audit of the page shows at the time of this article, 9 posts on his page had comments and 7 of those have mismatched comment counts.  Given the above example, the important question to ask yourself if you happen to see this is… are legitimate comments and community concerns being hidden and unaddressed by a candidate?

The takeaway is that any candidate’s social media presence should be always taken with a grain of salt.  It pays to know the issues and be alert, look at both what a candidate is saying and how they are saying it.

If you come across any interesting comments from a candidate, take a screenshot and let us know and we will look into it.