I am deeply disturbed that NJ 11th GOP congressional candidate Jay Webber censors constituents on social media. He has blocked dozens, if not scores, of followers on Twitter and deletes or “hides” Facebook comments that are critical of him and his policies so that his followers can’t see them.
I am a constituent who has posted several respectful comments to Webber’s public Facebook page disagreeing with his positions and often linking to factual information or news stories that contradict his statements and campaign messaging.
Each time, my comments have been “hidden,’’ meaning anyone who is Facebook Friends with me can see them but others can’t. Staffers who maintain the page selectively allow dissenting views -- perhaps so it will appear that Webber encourages free speech. But negative commentary, no matter how civil, and questions about his campaign platform and voting record as an NJ 26 assemblyman, frequently disappear from public view.
Meanwhile, this comment from a Webber supporter who railed against unauthorized immigrants and mocked another follower as a “libtard” was left standing: “They’re illegals and have no rights. Send them back to Guatemala!!"
I’ve tried sending my hidden comments to Webber’s campaign email address-- in addition to asking why they were censored -- and received no response.
Why does Webber feel so threatened by constituents’ questions and feedback that he silences them? Why can’t he trust his social media followers to hear opposing views and draw their own conclusions? Why can’t he instruct his staff to police inappropriate remarks but otherwise let voters have their say? Is his ego so fragile that, to protect it, he must exercise this level of control?
Last month, a judge ruled that it was unconstitutional for President Trump to block critics on Twitter because social media platforms are, in effect, public forums. Obviously, Webber doesn’t agree.
Other candidates and elected officials, including Webber’s Democratic opponent Mikie Sherrill, not only allow critical comments on their social media pages, they use them to address voters’ questions and concerns. Webber should follow their example.
NJ 11 constituents deserve a representative who doesn’t suppress our voice, who WANTS to hear from us, even when we’re angry and oppositional. We’re entitled to leaders who listen and respond wherever we reach out to them, online and in real life.
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