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Beauty in Belmont by, Delleny Molisani

This week’s poll question: Should the Wellsville Sun disable Facebook comments on sensitive community issues?


Recent big picture issues have created rancor on social media

By Andrew Harris

Facebook has connected us all in amazing ways. I love to see my friends daily life on the other side of the nation and all the great pictures. Of course the comments are always interesting and they aren’t much different than the first online editions of the Wellsville Daily Reporter. Back then, the local news allowed open comments at the end of each story and often the comments resulted in tit-for-tats, dirty laundry aired, and snark, lots of snark.

Not much has changed over the years. While the Wellsville Sun doesn’t publish reader comments on the website proper, we do allow commentary from readers on our Facebook page. For the most part, our readers are tactful and respectful, even in disagreement. The exception is when the subject is sensitive, or even totally divided.

We make a point to avoid the national headlines and the mercurical figures who dominate the national headlines. But sometimes those subjects hit home and make news in Allegany County.

Last week we had a large rally in support of a women’s reproductive rights in the shadow of the recent US Supreme court decision which struck down Roe vs. Wade. The comments on the rally are largely the exact same as we’ve all read before. Heaven or hell aside, the results of those comments are now only increased division and anomosity.

Also last week in Wellsville, a student brought an illegal weapon with ammunition to school grounds, in his car, and was arrested. The incident brought outrage from both sides, some furious that the police arrested the student, some irate that the entire school was locked down due to the weapon.

When Chief Timothy O’Grady made a statement which clarified the arrest and explained his department’s actions, The Wellsville Sun put the statement on Facebook but disabled all comments. A regular reader was not happy with that decision, citing censorship and, in his opinion, a general disservice to the debate in general.

We agree that nasty comments, endless back and forth, and personal attacks are bad for everyone. We also understand the role and value of public debate, even if it is on Facebook.

What do you think? Where is the line? Should we disable comments when prudent or should that never happen? Vote this week and help us make a policy that is the most beneficial and the least harmful to the community we serve.

PS. You can check the status of our weekly poll now anytime on the main page!!

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