The swamping of the Fine Gael Facebook page

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It is amazing that those posting messages about Fine Gael suppposedly censoring comments on their Facebook page don’t bother to look back over the last few days where they will see any number of comments from people posting about Fine Gael supposedly censoring their comments which are clearly visible.  It is hard to tell where or even when precisely this story originated but it’s easy to understand why people are inclined to take the claims at face value despite no actual evidence being presented to show that censor of views is taking place. Like someone in a shopping centre screaming about a missing child we’re focused on finding the child despite none of us having ever seem the child in question before. So anyone who makes inquiries about the details is viewed as delaying the more urgent work of alerting everyone to the missing child, just as anyone asking about the detail in this case is viewed as supporting censorship.

So what is the current situation? There are loads of visible comments that are critical or negative about Fine Gael’s position on same-sex marraige and other topics that have been on the site for a few days now, so why would they be removing some comments, if indeed they were, and not others? From some of the supposedly removed comments that people have screen grabbed and linked back that I’ve looked at their content is for the most part abuse rather than any substantive point. Or they are cut and paste duplicates of the same question that has been asked and already answered, perhaps not to the satisfaction of those asking it but if those asking it are in disagreement with Fine Gael’s policy then they are never going to get an answer that is satisfactory.

What may be taking place is the filtering of how people choose to express themselves and not the substance of the views they are expressing, it might surprise some comments but on-line just as offline if you want to be taken seriously than swearing and vulgar abuse isn’t of much assistance in that regard.

If Fine Gael were censoring comments on the basis of the views being expressed then I would condemn that and say it was bang out of order, but if comments are being removed simply because they use considerably less than parliamentary language on what is a public page for a legitimate political party then that’s quite reasonable. I’ve yet to see evidence of reasonable comments that aren’t cut and paste duplicates being removed, and let’s face it most of those commenting haven’t seen that evidence either but they’re inclined to believe it is happening for reasons unrelated to what might or might not be happening with the page. It is possible for example that FG is using pre-moderation which means that posts don’t appear immediately but are queued for review and later posting once reviewed, the Irish Times and lots of sites do that. That does not mean views are being censored at all just that they don’t appear immediately. But I can’t be any more sure than the rest of those posting are about what precisely is happening, yet they are certain and are reacting to what they believe is certain.

Those supporting these tactics are in effect giving a green light to Cóir and the likes to engage in the same sort of reprehenisble swamping of discussion so as to paint Labour for example in a particularly negative and unrepresenative light. I could think to myself that this is a brilliantly conceived and executed attack by Labour Youth or an affliate but given how Labour’s campaign has gone to date that would be stretching crediblity.

I personally favour moving to full equality for same-sex marriage within the time frame of the next Dail, but I’d suggesting giving the civil partnership legislation some time to bed down first to ensure there are no legal channels or problems arisig from it. I think it is better to do this right than to rush it. But this swamping of the Fine Gael facebook page isn’t about the issue at all, it’s about people who aren’t inclined towards Fine Gael seeking to paint the party in a poor light in the last days of an election campaign.

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