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Cornwall council reprimands Towndale for social-media posts – Standard Freeholder



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Cornwall city council overwhelmingly voted in favour of reprimanding Coun. Justin Towndale on Monday, following code of conduct complaints filed against him by both chief administrative officer Maureen Adams and former fire chief Pierre Voisine.

The reprimand was recommended by integrity commissioner Tony Fleming, in two reports presented to council. Council however, decided against supporting Fleming’s second recommendation, which would have requested Towndale cease referring to city staff members in his social media posts. Citing the recommendation itself was too vague, council instead decided to ask for a social media policy for all of its members.

The investigation and subsequent two reports were initiated following complaints against Towndale, and ruled his social-media posts breached council’s code of conduct and its staff relations policy. The post which prompted the complaints dates back to last year, when Towndale learned Voisine had resigned from his position in order to take another job within Clarence-Rockland.


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“When a council member uses social media to publicly criticize a staff member, as Coun. Towndale did, that is a breach of the code of conduct,” said Fleming. “The method in which he chose to advocate his position was a breach of the code of conduct.”

  1. Coun. Justin Towndale stands to argue the case for returning a wards system to Cornwall at the council meeting on Jan. 14, 2019.
Alan S. Hale/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder

    Integrity commissioner recommends Cornwall Coun. Justin Towndale be reprimanded

  2. Cornwall's Fire Chief Pierre Voisine stressed the importance of the proposed new Fire Services headquarters during the second budget meeting on Tuesday February 4, 2020 in Cornwall, Ont. Francis Racine/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia Network

    Cornwall Fire Chief Voisine heading to Clarence-Rockland

Yet not all of council was in favour of reprimanding Towndale. Coun. Eric Bergeron, who said the investigation as well as the recommendations were of a political nature, said he believed the matter did not warrant a reprimand.

“I have gotten to know Coun. Towndale and I too share some of the frustrations with information not coming to us when we would like it,” he said. “I am aware that according to this report, there is no bylaw specific to this info but I understand the frustration. I believe that he (Towndale) speaks to accountability in government more than everyone else.

“Ultimately, I don’t think that he disrespects administration — I disagree with the report.”

A few members of council voiced their displeasure in reprimanding Towndale, but cited that council’s code of conduct required it.

“Criticism has to be done within a context that is respectful and appropriate,” said Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement. “We have a code of conduct that is pretty black and white, that says clearly that social media is not where that criticism has to take place.


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“This is not a good conversation to have. It’s awkward and it’s unpleasant… and I would hope that by passing this motion, we leave it at that.”

A handful of councillors on the other hand, called for the reports to be made even more accessible to Cornwall residents. The two reports were made public last week, when they were included in council’s March 22 meeting agenda.

Coun. Syd Gardiner requested hard copies of it be available at city hall for any Cornwall resident to view. Coun. Elaine MacDonald on the other hand, was hopeful that the city’s IT department create a special section on the city’s website in order to house all and future reports from the commissioner. Her request was quashed by the majority of council.

The reports can be found by visiting the city’s website. Hard copies can be obtained by visiting city hall and requesting them.

Calls for a social media policy for council members were raised when came time to decide if council would ask Towndale to refrain from referring to city staff in future social media posts.

“I will not be telling Coun. Towndale what he can and can’t post on social media,” said Bergeron. “I will not censor any elected official.”

Clement — and most of council for that matter — agreed, stating the time had come for the city to contemplate adopting such a policy.

“I think that to not have one is just not recognizing the impact of social media and the burden that it presents,” she said.

Towndale, who was not allowed to vote during the entirety of the process, declined to comment when asked by Clement. As of publication early Tuesday afternoon, queries for comment from the Standard-Freeholder had yet to be returned.


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OPINION/EDITORIAL: Will social media companies ever make fighting online abuse a priority? –



Is it just me who believes we’ve lost our ability to have civil discourse? 

Every day, we rely on social media platforms to engage with like-minded people, promote ourselves, our work, and/or business. Unfortunately, the downside of increasing your visibility, especially when you wade into an online discussion with an unpopular opinion, is you become a lightning rod for online abuse. Online abuse can be especially relentless if you are a woman, identified as a member of a race, religion, ethnicity, or part of the LGBTQ+ community.

I believe social media companies can reduce, even come close to, eliminating, online abuse. The first step: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, et al. becoming more serious and urgent about addressing the toxicity they’re permitting on their respective platform. The second step: Give users more control over their privacy, identity, and account history.  

Here are five features social media companies could introduce to mitigate online abuse.

Educate users on how to protect themselves online.

I’ll admit social media companies have been improving their anti-harassment features. However, many of these features are hard to find and not user-friendly. Platforms should have a section within their help center that deals specifically with online abuse, showing how to access internal features along with links to external tools and resources. 

Make it easy to tighten privacy and security settings.

Platforms need to make it easier for users to fine-tune their privacy and security settings and inform how these adjustments impact visibility and reach. Users should be able to save configurations of settings into personalized “safety modes,” which they can toggle between. When they alternate between safety modes, a “visibility snapshot” should show them in real-time who’ll see their content.

Distinguishing between the personal and professional

Currently, social media accounts are all-encompassing of your professional life and personal life. If you want to distinguish between your professional and personal life, you must create two accounts. Why not be able to make one social media account that toggles between your personal and professional identities as well as migrate or share audiences between them? 

Managing account histories

It’s common for people to switch jobs and careers and their views over time. Being able to pull up a user’s social media history, which can date back more than a decade, is a goldmine for abuse. Platforms should make it easy for users to easily search old posts and make them private, archive, or delete.

Credit cards and/or phone number authentication.

All social media platforms allow the creation of anonymous accounts. Ironically, much of the toxicity permeating social media stems from people hiding cowardly behind anonymous accounts. 

Anonymity enables toxic behavior by facilitating and backhandedly encouraging “uncivil discourse.” Eliminating the ability to create an anonymous account would literally end online abuse. 

Anonymity allows people to act out their anger, frustrations, and their need to make others feel bad, so they feel good. (I’m unhappy, so I want everyone else to be unhappy.). Being anonymous allows someone to say things they wouldn’t even think of or have the courage to, speak publicly, let alone face-to-face. 

All credit cards and telephone numbers are associated with a billing address. Social media platforms could prevent anonymous accounts by asking new joiners to input their credit card information, to be verified but not charged, or a telephone number to which a link, or code, can be sent to authenticate. (Email authentication is useless since email addresses can be created without identity verification.) 

Undeniable fact: When people know they can easily be traced they’re unlikely to exhibit uncivil behaviour.

Yeah, I know — for many, handing over more data to social media giants isn’t appetizing, even if it eliminates the toxic behavior hurting our collective psyche. Having to go through a credit card or telephone authentication will be pause for many to ask themselves why the feel they must be on social media. Such reflection is not a bad exercise.

Online attacks have a negative impact on mental and physical health, stops free expression, and silences voices already underrepresented in the creative and media sectors and in public discourse. 

Respective platform user guidelines (aka. Community Standards) are open to interpretation and therefore not enforced equitably. Content moderators (human eyes) and AI crawling (searching for offensive words and content) aren’t cutting it. 

Social media companies can’t deny they could be doing a much better job creating a safer online environment. Unfortunately, a safer online environment will only evolve when social media companies begin taking online abuse seriously.

Nick Kossovan writes the column ‘Digitized Koffee With Nick’ which appears in several newspapers and is the Customer Service Professionals Network’s Director of Social Media (Executive Board Member). On Twitter and Instagram follow @NKossovan.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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Online Presence For Physicians: Appropriate Use Of Social Media – Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment – Canada – Mondaq News Alerts




Online Presence For Physicians: Appropriate Use Of Social Media

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Our interactions and presence on social media have continued to
increase, especially during the pandemic when the need and desire
to stay connected with one another has been heightened. Many
professionals, including physicians, use social media in their
practice as an effective tool to communicate and interact with
colleagues and patients, market their practice and their business,
and to share content and information with a broad audience. Along
with the opportunities for networking, business development and
socializing that social media presents, there are also risks
associated with its use by physicians and other professionals. It
is important for physicians and other professionals to understand
the risks associated with their online presence and ensure that
their behaviour and actions on social media are in line with the
professional, legal and ethical obligations of their

Guidance from the CPSO: Should physicians be active on social

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO)
recognizes the benefits and opportunities that the participation in
social media provides to physicians, including the enhancement of
patient care, medical education and the fostering of collegiality
among fellow physicians and health professionals. However,
physicians continue to be expected to comply with all professional
obligations, including legal obligations, ethical obligations, and
CPSO policies, when creating an online presence and engaging in the
use of social media. These professional, legal, and ethical
obligations must be upheld at all times.

The CPSO has published guidelines to assist physicians with
ensuring that their presence online and their use of social media
complies with their professional obligations. A selection of these
guidelines are as follows:

  • Assume all content on the internet is public
  • Ensure compliance with legal and professional obligations to
    maintain patient privacy and confidentiality
  • Refrain from providing clinical advice to patients through
    social media
  • Protect your reputation, the reputation of the profession and
    public trust
  • Refrain from establishing personal connections with patients or
    people who are closely associated with patients

The CPSO has published several other guidelines with respect to
the use of social media which can be found here.

Best practices for physicians when engaging on social

Considering the guidelines of the CPSO outlined above, it may be
helpful for physicians to consider the following best practices
when using social media and creating their online presence:

Uphold Moral Principals and Integrity

As a professional, it is very important to ensure that
integrity, morals and ethics are upheld at all times, including
online. As the CPSO indicates in its guidelines for the use of
social media, it is strongly advised that physicians refrain from
providing clinical advice to specific patients through social

Social media is a great tool to use for the dissemination of
general medical or health information for educational or
informational sharing purposes. When sharing information on social
media, it is important to ensure that physicians are very clear
that their posts are not intended as medical advice and that they
are not providing a medical opinion. It may also be helpful to
indicate the basis of the information that is being shared, whether
based on scientific studies, professional experience or personal

Ensure Patient Privacy is Protected

Trust is essential to a sound patient-physician relationship.
Physicians have a statutory obligation to protect and maintain
patient privacy and confidentiality. The Personal Health
Information Protection Act
(PHIPA) places unique
responsibilities on individuals that control and collect health
information, and requires health information custodians, including
physicians, to take steps that are reasonable in the circumstances
to ensure that personal health information in the custodian’s
custody or control is protected against theft, loss and
unauthorized use or disclosure. When posting to social media, the
duty of privacy and confidentiality must be maintained at all
times, by ensuring that any posts that are made have been clearly
removed of any identifying information. Physicians must not post
identifiable patient information or images to social media. It is
possible for an unnamed patient to be identifiable through minimal
information such as the area of residence or a description of the
patient’s condition. Failure to protect patient health
information and comply with the requirements under PHIPA may result
in a host of liability issues, including significant fines and
disciplinary action by the College.

Maintain Professionalism

Physicians have an obligation to maintain professionalism and
act in a manner that upholds the professional standards and ethics
of the medical profession. Whether the physician is interacting in
person or online, such professionalism expectations remain the same
in all scenarios. Inappropriate behaviour on social media,
including the publishing of offensive or damaging statements, may
have the effect of bringing the professionalism of the physician
into question. This in turn could serve to weaken the public’s
opinion of the physician and of the profession itself. Physicians
who engage in the use of social media should ensure that all
communications are professional and are in line with the
expectations and obligations of the profession.

Additionally, as the CPSO suggests in its guidelines, physicians
should refrain from establishing personal connections with patients
online. If the physician receives a request on his or her personal
social media page, the physician may consider guiding the patient
to connect on their professional social media page, or to contact
the office. Forming personal connections with patients may blur
professional boundaries and compromise the physician’s ability
to remain objective.

Social media platforms have created opportunities for physicians
to increase professional and patient engagement, to advocate for
the profession and to build and maintain connections with
colleagues, peers and the public. It is important for physicians to
understand the risks associated with the improper use of social
media and to always be mindful that their legal, professional and
ethical obligations also extend to their online presence.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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Hong Kong Leader Jokes About Need for Law to Muzzle Media Leaks – Bloomberg



Hong Kong’s leader criticized media who published her comments in a private meeting and joked that a law might be needed to curb such reporting — comments that are likely to fan concerns about the city’s press freedom.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on a radio talk show Friday that a two-year-old report on comments she made to a closed-door meeting of businesspeople in 2019 “showed the integrity and the morality of some of the media.” She added that the “media should not have reported something that was given in that fashion.”

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