MARC CHASE: Pence owes no social media apologies

2013-07-30T00:00:00Z MARC CHASE: Pence owes no social media apologiesBy Marc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com

Anyone who spends any time on social media platforms -- namely Facebook -- knows the sites are a conduit largely for promotion of one's own views, life celebrations or other preferences.

So why were some people up in arms a few weeks ago when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's staff removed comments from the governor's Facebook page posted by people who criticized his stance on gay marriage? Pence is against same-sex marriage, by the way, for the benefit of anyone whose head has been in the closet lately.

But that's not really the issue.

The furor over the removal of critical comments prompted an apology from Pence and the creation of a social media policy governing what should and shouldn't be posted on his Facebook site. Pence rolled out the new policy last week.

Having a policy for something like this is probably a good thing in this ever-evolving social media age. But I'm not sure the governor owes anyone an apology.

I suspect very few of us create actual open forums for discussions on our Facebook pages. Most of us tend to "friend" like-minded folks from the Facebook universe and promote our own views or family events.

I like to share my Times columns and articles with folks on there. Occasionally, I'll spout off on something that's bothering me in the realm of current events, and I love to share posts about my great passion for Northwest Indiana Civil War history.

But mostly, Facebook has replaced the coffee table photo album as a way of sharing photos of the kids with my family and friends abroad.

I'll grant you, Pence's official gubernatorial page is not exactly the same medium as someone's personal shoot-the-breeze Facebook page. But should the expectations of the overall intended purposes really be all that different?

Pence has decided the main focus of his Facebook page should be informing people about the governor's goings-on and his programs. That's his prerogative, as it is for all of us who choose to have Facebook pages.

His new policy accepts comments as long as they're not inaccurate, profane or defamatory. Such comments will be removed, his new policy states.

That all seems reasonable. If you went on my Facebook page and started swearing at me -- or espousing belligerent comments because of my beliefs -- I would delete your comments and kick you off my "friends" list. The new generation calls it "unfriending." Many of us would do the same thing.

There are far more pressing matters to occupy the time of Indiana's governor than drafting apologies for doing what most people with Facebook accounts would do -- or have already done.

If you don't like the governor or his staff regulating the content of his Facebook page, you have some options. Unfriend him, grumble about it on your own Facebook page or exercise your right to vote against him in the next election cycle.

Investigative Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. The opinions are the writer's.

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