'It’s a problem for democracy': Victoria mayor threatens to leave Twitter after troll attacks
Published Monday, September 9, 2019 4:11PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, September 9, 2019 6:54PM PDT
Viral vitriol is pushing Victoria’s top politician to the brink.
Mayor Lisa Helps says after a wave of fake news caught fire on Twitter she has endured an onslaught of angry posts and emails from across Canada.
In 2018, Helps quit Facebook. She called the social media platform toxic and said it was killing democracy.In a Tweet on Monday morning, Helps said, “Do I have to get of twitter too?!”
The second-term mayor was responding to a post which inaccurately criticized Helps and her council for deciding to take down Christmas lights in an effort to not offend Muslims and Somalians.
The poster wrote, “I said before she’s the stupidest woman in Canada taking down Sir John McDonald [sic] statue.”
Snapping back, Helps quickly responded saying the post is an “absolute lie.”
The off-colour post, which was created on Sept. 6, not only sparked outrage online but also initiated a wave of emails to the mayor asking her to respond to the so-called “war on Christmas” in Victoria.
Helps has clarified that she is, in fact, behind a movement to increase the number of Christmas and holiday decorations in the downtown area. A hot-button motion to consider defunding religious holiday symbols was proposed by a different councillor, not Helps.
“On Twitter, anything goes,” Helps told CTV News. “Instead of people thinking, 'Huh, I wonder if that is true,' they see it, they think it’s true and the snowball goes from there. It’s a real problem. It’s a problem for democracy.”
Helps said the core of her concern is for young politicians. She worries that young women with ambitions to lead might see attacks, like the ones she has faced, and consider it too harmful to move forward with their campaigns.
The South Island mayor said that while this latest online attack was unsetting and a waste of taxpayers' time, she won’t leave Twitter because of a few uninformed radicals.