MOUNT DESERT — A mistake has led town officials to change their minds and officially allow the public to post comments on the town’s Facebook page.
The board of selectmen decided in December that the town should have its own Facebook page to provide information to the public. But they voted 3-2 not to allow people to comment on the town’s Facebook postings or to indicate whether they “like” a posting.
Selectmen Matt Hart and Martha Dudman argued that such a policy would limit the popularity and usefulness of the Facebook page.
Last week, Hart reported to the board that the page has been up and running for several weeks. He said it doesn’t allow members of the public to initiate posts.
“However, we apparently did not check the box disallowing comments,” he said.
Hart said that hasn’t caused any problems, and he moved to make allowing comments on the Facebook page official.
Town Manager Durlin Lunt initially had opposed allowing public comments, expressing concern that the town could be accused of censorship if some comments were rejected. But he said last week that, having read the comments that have been posted so far, he has changed his mind.
“It’s been quite interesting,” he said. “Some of the comments have been very helpful to me, actually.”
For example, he told the Islander later, local historian and former Northeast Harbor Library director Bob Pyle had provided some of the history behind a couple of photos that Lunt had posted.
“It’s kind of fun to get people’s reactions,” he said. “Now that I’ve seen [the Facebook page] in operation, it seems to be quite effective.”
Selectman John Macauley, who earlier had opposed allowing public comments, joined Hart and Dudman in voting to change the policy. Tom Richardson voted to keep the no-comments policy. Board member Dennis Shubert, who had taken that position in December, was absent from last week’s meeting.