I am proud to be able to serve the good people of North Devon as their representative in Parliament. This is an honour which I take very seriously, and I am keen to hear from, and engage with, as many constituents as possible. I do this through running surveys, holding surgeries, online events, visiting businesses and charities, and responding to emails, letters, phone calls, casework, and policy queries. I also use my official social media channels to promote what the Government is doing to help constituents, and the work that I am carrying out as the local MP. I also use my social media accounts to celebrate achievements in our area.
As a Member of Parliament, I always try to do what I feel is the best for North Devon and while I have a particular political viewpoint, which I know not everyone will agree with, I also know that others will have their own views and opinions. I respect this. Even if I do not agree with someone’s views, it is their right to have a different viewpoint to mine.
There are a number of ground rules that I, in common with many of my colleagues on both sides of the House have set for my social media channels. These have been designed to ensure that all interactions are compatible with the principles of common courtesy, respect, and good manners. Sadly, there are some who wish to abuse my social media accounts for their own purposes. I do not believe that this is right, and I do not do this to others with different views to myself.
I, as an MP, like everyone have the right to protect myself from any threats of harassment and abuse. My social media channels are my own platform, owned and curated by myself and/or select members of my team, to express my positions and highlight information that I think that the people of North Devon should be aware of.
I try to respond to comments on my social media channels as much as I can. I will respond a lot more on Facebook but rarely respond to comments on Twitter. Because responses are intermittent, please do not expect an answer via social media and if your question is important, always email me.
Where I may have done so in the past, I will certainly not be responding to a comment that is designed to cause anger, division, abuse or hate.
These platforms are not an appropriate place to raise casework issues or matters that need an in-depth response or analysis. Comments are not a substitute for emails, and I will not be able to action them, such as when I forward an email to a local partner or a Government Minister. More often than not, it is better to put your question/comment into an email to me at email@example.com
The ground rules that I have set for my social media channels are as follows.
- The primary aim of my social media accounts is to serve constituents in North Devon. If you are identified as not living or working in the constituency, you may have your comments ignored, hidden, or removed. If you are not a constituent and you consistently breech or even bend the other rules below then you will find yourself blocked.
- Abuse and threats of any kind will not be tolerated – even if you think that the words that you have used are mild or were posted with tongue in cheek. Any comments that my team and/or I feel are not polite or respectful may be hidden or deleted without prior notice and the account that is posting them may be blocked and reported to the social media companies and to the Police. We have a zero-tolerance policy which means that we will report all threats and abuse.
- While I welcome feedback, the comments sections of my social media channels are not to be used by opposition activists or organisations to promote their own political views or campaigns. If they follow the rules that are set by the social media company, they should be able to create their own page or account or contribute to the many groups that are created for online political discourse. Likewise, comments that are intended to deflect or divert attention from the content of the main post may be removed without prior notice.
- Spamming is not tolerated. This includes persistent posting of comments across multiple posts or platforms that basically say the same thing or posting an unrelated comment to the original post. These comments will be deleted and the account that is posting them may be blocked without any prior notice.
- Advertising of any kind is not permitted and any genuine recommendations of products or services that people make in the comments are the responsibility of the person making the recommendation.