Facebook error costs Wirral councillor

Posted on March 31, 2010

 

It seems incredible that people, particularly politicians, still make mistakes where the Internet and Facebook is concerned – believing that their comments will go largely unnoticed. The sort of comments that no right minded politician would utter on national television, or in an interview with a journalist, seems to frequent the online domain as though no one will ever see them – which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Thanks to the power of Facebook, and the fact that its profiles and fan pages are now fully indexible, making them ideal for SEO, Wirral councillor Denis Knowles made a monumental gaff this last week when he posted a homophobic comment on his Facebook page. Believing his comments would be seen by just his nearest and dearest, and despite removing them within an hour, they had already been copied and distributed via the medium of the viral.

The comments were posted three days ago and concerned some leaflets that were being handed out in his area by ‘limp wristed’ boys. The Tory councillor commented:

“…an unusual group of boys leafleting in Seacombe this weekend, of the limp wristed variety and definitely NOT local.”

The MP for Wallasey, Angela Eagle, has jumped on the chance to attack the Wirral councillor for his comments. She write to David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, stating:

This statement by Cllr Knowles was nasty, deeply offensive and displays a revealing level of bigotry.

The Tories claim to have changed but this comment, coming just days after Mr Cameron fell apart during a TV interview on equality, shows they have not changed at all.

I was speechless when this was first brought to my attention because I am proud my re-election campaign is being supported by a cross section of the community – men and women, young and old, gay and straight.

I want to know what the local Conservative Party and the national leadership are going to do about it.

At first the Wirral councillor tried to claim that his Facebook page had been hacked and he had not written the comments, claiming:

I have put nothing like that on my Facebook page.

However, he soon realised that honesty was the best policy and admitted to writing the homophobic comments, but insisted he did not mean any offence by them:

Hate the way things can be misconstrued by nasty people with an axe to grind.

Despite his initial denial of writing the comments at all, followed by complaints that people were out to get him, the Wirral councillor eventually apologised for his actions.

I would like to officially apologise for any offence I might have given to anyone with comments I have made on this site. I removed said comment as soon as I realised I might have inadvertently upset someone.

As a trade unionist and member of the Labour party for more than 30 years, I have never held views which could be construed as being homophobic.

Having recently joined the Conservative Party, I am proud to say I serve all people regardless of colour, creed, or sexual preferences.

I am horrified someone has hacked into my personal Facebook page and either misunderstood or misconstrued for political reasons something I have said in all innocence.

Notice how, even in his apology, he insists that someone ‘hacked’ into his Facebook page. No Denis – nobody hacked into your Facebook page. Your Facebook page is public.

One day everyone will realise that what gets put up on Facebook, and other social networking websites, is in the public domain. If you don’t want your mother, your father, your boss and, in the case of this Wirral councillor, your constituents, to see it – don’t add it to Facebook!

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