CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Have you been blocked by a politician on Twitter?
A Calgary MP was trending for supposedly shutting out people engaging in legitimate conversations, and experts say there are risks to being quick to block users.
“We would never do this in real life, you’d never be a business owner and only allow only certain people to view your business,” said Joe Whitbread from Jo(e) Social Media.
After several users complained they were blocked by Conservative MP Michelle Rempel this past weekend, #BlockedbyRempel was trending on Twitter.
One user wrote “I was blocked during the 2015 election, I think because I asked a question. no insults, no profanity.”
Another shares a screenshot and asks if Rempel were to announce her candidacy for the federal conservatives “would anyone know?”
— Jim O'Leary (@jim_oleary) December 14, 2019
“There’s always a risk when you shut people down, particularly in a party that has a history of appealing to the grassroots, promising to listen,” said Political Scientist Lori Williams. “Sometimes people who vote for a politician may disagree with a particular policy and it’s simply respectful to respond, meaningfully, to a concern that is legitimately raised.”
Social media advisors say there’s a growing online style for politicians creating animosity online that works for them.
“They are getting spoken about and when it comes to election time, their names are the first that we’ll remember,” said Whitbread.
Despite the controversy over blocking social media users, many advisors including Whitbread agree there are concerns of threats and harassment, especially for women in the public eye.
“They’re human before their jobs and sometimes we need to block the haters and the bad people.”
An amnesty international report said targeted abuse of female politicians – on the right and left – is rampant across Twitter.
While there are laws in the United States about elected officials blocking people on social media, there are no such laws in Canada.