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VIDEO: The use of social media by Kelowna city councillors could come under greater scrutiny

In politics, likes and followers are important, but sending out a tweet in the middle of a council deliberation is probably a mistake.

The problem is, there is no rulebook.

At least not yet.

Kelowna City Council is moving forward with establishing a Code of Conduct for themselves, and social media is part of it.

"Normally you think, here on your own Facebook site, that's your domain. You can say whatever you want, you can delete whoever you want," said new Kelowna city councillor Rick Webber,

"but if you're getting into the public realm it's complicated, so it would be nice to have some guidelines."

Still, sometimes guidelines can go to far.

Edmonton City councillors rejected a new social media policy when it came forward in 2021.

It would have forced them to keep followers even when their inclination might be to block them from the page, or justify their decision if they decide to block them.

Here in Kelowna, Councillor Loyal Wooldridge is probably the most active on social media of any on council, and he already has his guard up, before a policy has been laid out.

"It's up to that individual elected official to curate their page as they see fit," said Wooldridge.

"If the city was telling me how people can comment or what type of information I can share that would be an overreach for me."

Still, there is an appetite for some set of guidelines.

"I actually want to hear everything clear, plain, and simple," said Councillor Mohini Singh, "so that we all know what the rules are."

For Webber, if his own personal Facebook page is up for scrutiny, he might take the exit ramp.

"I may get rid of Facebook if it goes down that road and I don't want it to," he said. "I might just get rid of it."

Social media is just one item on a long list of elements that could be part of Kelowna council's first-ever Code of Conduct.

Council voted unanimously for staff to put together a draft code for them to consider in the weeks and months ahead.



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