A Dubbo Regional Council candidate has called on everyone involved in the election to sign a social media pledge.
Stephen Lawrence, the Country Labor candidate for East Ward, released a statement on Sunday afternoon where he called for an end to ‘keyboard cowboys and cowgirls’.
Mr Lawrence said there had been a negative and destructive use of social media in the lead up to the elections, from fake accounts attacking opponents pages to supporters engaging in personally abusive posts.
“I am no shrinking violet when it comes to campaigning. I am willing to have a political argument with pretty much anyone, but I have been appalled by some of this online behaviour I have witnessed in this campaign,” Mr Lawrence said in the statement.
“I hasten to add Country Labor has not been a victim of this, but it affects us all as participants in the political process.”
The council candidate said he was calling on in to stop. Mr Lawrence said he had contacted all of the candidates to join him in the pledge.
By Sunday afternoon Cody Jones – who is running in a group with Mr Lawrence – and South Ward candidate Douglas Prior had also signed a pledge stating they would be honest and respectful in their social media use.
“I am not accusing or naming anyone. I am simply calling for a halt, for everyone to respect proper standards of conduct. Social media should not be a place for keyboard cowboys and cowgirls – people who behave in a way online they never would face to face,” Mr Lawrence said.
“I am saying this to everyone: candidates, supporters, former councillors and members of the public whether they are doing it or not. This is why I have released a signed social media policy and commitment and I urge everyone to do so.”
The pledge states:
- I will be respectful in all my social media.
- I will be honest in all my social media.
- I will treat people on social media how I treat people face-to-face.
- I will not create fake social media accounts designed to influence opinion or encourage others to do so.
- I will comment responsibly on online stories and pages.
- I will never attack an opponent personally.
- I regard attacks or slights on family members and other non-participants in the political process as beyond the pale and utterly unacceptable.
- I will be accountable for all social media I undertake.
Mr Lawrence said he was not accusing any candidates of anything, he was simply calling on them to erase all doubt from the minds of voters. There should be an honest and respectful online discussion, he said.