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Gerry Rogers Removed From Assembly – The Dark Side of Social Media

I was perusing Techdirt, as I often do, and read a story I simply couldn’t  ignore about a Canadian politician who was removed from assembly for something that she simply did not do.  Gerry Rogers, a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly, was removed from Assembly when it was learned that she was part of a Facebook group targeting Premier Kathy Dunderdale called “Kathy Dunderdale must GO!!!”.  The group page evidently contained death threats regarding Dunderdale.  Rogers denied joining this group, saying that she was added to the group without her knowledge.

How could this be possible? Can you add people to Facebook groups without their authorization?  The answer is yes, but you must first be friends with the person who you wish to add.  This is great if the group is for something like a high school reunion or a birthday party, but could be devastating if it contains something as extreme as a death threat.  Imagine the implications for anyone on social media, but especially those in the public eye such as politicians, celebrities and executives.

This is obviously not the only thing that can go wrong in the world of social media, but is an extreme example of something that all professionals can learn from.  Issues regarding impersonation, defamation, harassment, cyber bullying and stalking are all things that come to mind when thinking about the dark side of social media.  What is worse is that although the public is becoming more and more sophisticated about what they read on the Internet, there are still many people that believe what they read.  Even if you don’t immediately believe it, it can have an effect on your perception of someone, or whether you choose to do business with someone.

Many people view outlets such as Facebook as a personal space that is separate from their professional life.  The problem is that many people can view what you say and do on social media sites, so you are putting it out there for people to see, and these people include your boss, your colleagues, your clients, etc.  Be careful who you add as friends or connect with on social media, because let’s not forget that it was more than likely one of Gerry Rogers’ friends that added her to the group at issue here.  This is a network that you have built, and whether you like it or not and it can reflect badly on you personally and professionally.

Gerry Rogers is certainly the victim here whether it was a friend that added her or her account was hacked, but careful monitoring of social media profiles could have prevented this.  Social media is meant for meaningful engagement and conversations.  It is important to remain active once you join to both grow the value of your network and protect yourself.  We at Centre believe that social media is a great tool and can be an enjoyable endeavor.  If you have any questions about social media, online defamation or impersonation, contact us and check out or page on social media consulting.

By Taylor Hume

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