When in doubt, throw it out. And that’s exactly what Premier Kathy Dunderdale did Wednesday evening — with her Twitter account.
Just after 8 p.m., the premier issued a statement saying she was alarmed to discover (through a CBC-TV report) that she had been following a Twitter account that promotes pornography.
“I was dismayed to discover that my Twitter account was in any way associated with inappropriate websites,” she said.
It wasn’t long before followers discovered that her account, in an apparent act of overkill, had been completely shut down.
Dunderdale’s actions were forced by her own convictions earlier in the week. Since the unprecedented ouster of St. John’s Centre NDP MHA Gerry Rogers from the House of Assembly Tuesday, the government caucus has found itself painted into an impossible corner.
House Leader Darin King had demanded Rogers apologize for having been signed up by a third party to a large anti-Dunderdale Facebook group.
His argument was that a couple of others — out of at least 1,700 — had posted vulgar and even threatening comments to the site.
Speaker Ross Wiseman, inexplicably, agreed to go along with the charade, and the rest is history.
There are plenty of Twitter experts out there — journalists, politicians and otherwise little-known geeks among them — but social media is still a relative mystery to many.
One shouldn’t fault government members for not knowing that passively linking up to a Facebook group is not the same as showing up at a Klan meeting.
Social media is a great equalizer, throwing together saints and sinners in one global sea of myth, fact and idle chatter. Guilt by association is impossible to avoid.
In ruling against Rogers, Wiseman was wrong on every count but one: sitting members should be held to a higher standard than others.
This is true.
Their privileges in the chamber do come with some degree of responsibility to respect their fellow colleagues outside of the chamber.
But passively following a Twitter account or joining a Facebook group does not inherently imply an endorsement.
Perhaps it’s the terms “friend” and “follower” that so confuse Minister King and his colleagues. These are not to be taken literally. They are buzzwords, adopted by social media sites to instil a sense of belonging.
Following or friending someone online is often a passive, innocent act, made in the spur of the moment.
The point of CBC-TV’s exposé of government members Wednesday was not to incriminate them, but to point out how innocuous these loose online associations are.
Nonetheless, the PC caucus has been railing since Tuesday that Gerry Rogers had no business being in any way associated with the anti-
Perhaps they’d be better advised to get more in the loop themselves.