British Columbia

'Embarrassing' online incident prompts Port Alberni, B.C., to develop social media policy

Port Alberni city councillors voted unanimously this week to develop a new social media policy for elected officials after Coun. Chris Alemany used an alias to post to a local Facebook group.

Coun. Chris Alemany used an alias to post to local Facebook group

A Port Alberni, B.C., councillor used a fake name to post a comment in a Facebook group. (The Associated Press/Elise Amendola)

City councillors in Port Alberni, B.C., voted unanimously this week to develop a new social media policy for elected officials.

Mayor Mike Ruttan says he introduced the motion following an incident he calls "embarrassing for the city."

Coun. Chris Alemany used a fake name to access the popular Alberni Valley Facebook group, AV Chatter Box.

Alemany praised himself and another councillor in the post from late June, under the alias, Ronald Richard Hastings.

He now says he regrets using the name to make the comments.

'My mistake'

"That was my mistake," said Alemany. "I should have never used it to post from. So, I've apologized on Facebook, and at council and in the community."

He says he created the account after administrators removed him from the online group.

Alemany wouldn't say why he was barred.

"That's not something that I really know," he said. "It was the decision of the moderator."

Alemany says he was frustrated by the negative tone used by some members during online discussions on politics.

Mayor Ruttan says the incident prompted city council to come up with guidelines for social media.  

"We do take an oath of office and we would hope and expect that online behaviour would reflect the seriousness with which we take on our responsibilities," said Ruttan.

City staff is looking into social media policies already in place in communities across B.C.

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