The City of Red Deer has apologized after an employee posted disrespectful comments through the city’s official Facebook page.
Tuesday’s comment stemmed from an online conversation about the lighting of City Hall in support of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which was Wednesday.
The employee, who manages the city’s social media account, intended to post the comment from a private account, but instead, posted it using the city’s Facebook page, said Tara Shand, Red Deer’s communications team lead.
“There was back and forth (between them) and the comment was removed quickly, but it was posted appearing to be posted from the City of Red Deer,” said Shand.
She said the city felt the apology was important, because it recognizes the comment was inappropriate.
“So we posted it (the apology), essentially, because, we, as the City of Red Deer, feel it’s our responsibility to own up to our mistakes, and we feel we have the responsibility to be transparent and honest with our citizens,” she said.
“The comments made by our staff member were of a disrespectful nature to that individual,” she said.
Jo Phillips, co-owner of Lacombe’s Jo(e) Social Media Inc., whose services include presentations to businesses, commended the city’s decision to get ahead of the problem, take ownership, and apologize for the error.
“We all screw up. It’s an honest mistake,” she said Wednesday. “Mistakes happen and it’s an unfortunate thing.”
Phillips said she believes the remark was inappropriate. From what she remembers, the comment on the city’s account was along the lines of “save your bigoted opinion,” adding the remark wouldn’t be considered inappropriate coming from an individual, but would be inappropriate coming from the city.
“As soon as I saw that, I knew it was somebody who screwed up. I knew it wasn’t the city saying it,” she said.
Phillips said this kind of mix up happens more in the small business sector, or with someone unfamiliar with how social media works.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s clearly a mistake they didn’t want to make. When you’re representing a brand as big as City of Red Deer, you have to be vigilant at all times.”
Shand said the city’s human resources department is investigating the matter.
Some people shared their opinions on the city’s apology post. Some of the comments offered support for the employee.
“Don’t fire them if it’s an honest mistake. We have way to many knee-jerk reactions and need to consider if they are valuable employees,” said one user.
“If you can’t say it on your work account, you probably shouldn’t say it on your personal account either,” said another user.