Bonavista MHA Neil King had enough last Thursday and posted on his Facebook account he’s “disgusted” with the actions of some on the social media site who have threatened his family.
King originally made his personal Facebook account available to the public. He used his network of 2,200 friends to keep his constituents up to date on various meetings, events and goings-on in the district, while accepting any problems or feedback as well.
But, according to King, once his friends and family became the subject of an online attack, he decided to put a stop to it.
“I am the MHA for the District of Bonavista, not my family and friends,” King wrote in the Facebook post. “Over the past two weeks they have been threatened, verbally abused, and accosted both in public and on social media.”
In an interview with The Packet Monday, King said most of the criticism he has seen has been constructive. However, the disrespectful posts to his family and friends led him to decide to change up his social media policy.
“I’ve had people defend me and automatically they get attacked. I don’t think it’s fair to my friends and family that they should have to be a part of it.”
King said in the Facebook post he was told by a municipal leader that God will make him pay for this budget. He also wrote his 76 -year-old father has been threatened with violence on two occasions — once at the NAPE rally on April 25 in Bonavista and once online.
“It makes me angry,” said King. “I’m the MHA for the district of Bonavista, not (my family).”
He said he made his personal cell phone number and email available for anyone who has had a problem with the 2016 provincial budget. But he also said those who resort to personal attacks aren’t the ones calling him, willing to talk about the budget.
Now, he’s directing any political problems and feedback to his political page. He will still keep his personal Facebook account, but only to communicate with his friends and family — and to continue to get the word out to the large network of local people.
“Any major policy debates, I calmly ask them to redirect them to my MHA page,” he said.
He said it’s important to keep the avenues open to the people, despite any disrespectful comments he and his family have received. He said he will delete both friends and comments of those who continue to post disrespectful comments on his personal page.
“When it comes to my political page, I encourage as much debate as people want to put on there. But when it came to my personal page — my family and friends getting attacked by a select few people — I decided that was enough.
“I fully believe that I can do a lot of good with (social media). It gets the message out. People actually enjoy seeing my posts. They enjoy being kept aware of what’s going on in the district … any policy changes that may affect them or just general information. I think that’s a great route to go. But it’s a balance when it becomes full of personal attacks.”