Pence social media policy discourages debate

2013-07-22T00:00:00Z 2014-08-23T14:14:07Z Pence social media policy discourages debateBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com

INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence has adopted a social media policy for his official Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts, following a June incident where his staff was caught scrubbing comments from Hoosiers that disagreed with the Republican governor's opposition to gay marriage.

The new policy discourages discussions of controversial state issues and warns that comments will be deleted if the governor's staff deems them inaccurate, profane or defamatory.

"The focus of the social networking opportunities is to share information about the governor of Indiana's programs and activities," according to the policy. "Larger discussions of political views and philosophies may be addressed elsewhere."

Hoosiers violating those rules or posting unauthorized links, advertising or nude images may be banned from accessing the governor's social media outlets, the policy reads.

Ironically, Pence did not post his new social media policy on his social media accounts -- perhaps fearing the reaction when his followers discover Pence intends the services to be a one-way conduit of pro-Pence information.

That attitude brought Pence some unwanted national attention last month when the website pencership.com posted before-and-after screenshots of user comments supporting gay marriage written on the governor's Facebook page that were promptly deleted by Pence's staff.

Pence used his Facebook on June 26 to demand an amendment limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples be added to the Indiana Constitution -- the same day the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that found a similar California amendment was unconstitutional.

The first-year governor apologized following the Facebook scrubbing and said he intended his Facebook page to be a forum for "open and respectful" public debate.

Polls suggest a majority of Hoosiers would vote against the pending Indiana amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions if it is approved next year by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

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