EDITORIAL: Truth has to lead politicians online

The public deserves accountability and professionalism from its politicians

A Port Alberni city councillor has been caught using a fake Facebook account, and it has prompted the mayor to ask for a social media policy to include elected officials.

It has also ignited debate—ironically, on social media—as to whether this was a big deal or not.

Chris Alemany was caught posting with the name Ronald Richard Eastings on a Facebook page where he had previously been banned under his real name. It was discovered he signed up for more than one Alberni Valley Facebook page using the assumed name.

The situation brought cries of ‘Warren Betanko’, an infamous letter-writing scam from the 1990s that involved former Parkville-Qualicum MLA Paul Reitsma writing letters to the editor under a fake name, praising himself and criticizing his political opponents. Reitsma was caught and ejected from the BC Liberal caucus for his actions.

In this age of social media it is too easy to disguise oneself behind a false identity, and, because of the prevalence, to become complacent about such a practice. With increased demand to engage with readers, and growing social media numbers, fake accounts are something we encounter every day—and admittedly, we did not give Chris Alemany’s indiscretion much importance at first.

On second glance, though, and without the added weight of a Port Alberni Facebook page owner’s decision to ban him for other behaviour, we realized we were wrong to make light of it.

The public deserves accountability and professionalism from its politicians, no matter at what level, and that should include truth and integrity on social media the same as we would demand in person.

— Alberni Valley News