Pasco elections information shunning social media

Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley announced that the office will no longer make use of social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to disseminate information to the public. All updates will be posted to the office’s website, www.PascoVotes.gov

The spread of misinformation, negativity and hate speech on social media is an issue that affects all types of users, from ordinary citizens to celebrities.

It isn’t a new problem and it isn’t going away any time soon, but Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley took another step to ensure voters know the information disseminated from his office is legitimate and accurate. Announced in a press release July 15, Corley stated his office will only publish voting and election information directly from its website, www.PascoVotes.gov.

That means no more Facebook and Twitter postings, and the decision happened to be announced just as worldwide news was breaking about the hacking of high-profile Twitter accounts. In a July 16 telephone interview with Corley, the supervisor said that his office had been contemplating a break from social media for some time. The timing with the news from Twitter was a coincidence that helped highlight why the decision is being made.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for some time,” Corley said. “We would send informational postings out and see it, in essence, hijacked by political banter and partisan bickering. And some of those posts, I could not tell if they were constituents just chiming in with their opinion or if they were posted by a nefarious actor. That’s not really helping.

“It came to a point where I was asking myself, ‘What are we really getting from this?’ We’ve done so much to shore up our cybersecurity posture. We work tirelessly with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of State, etc., and there’s this huge avenue that’s really not been addressed on social media — Facebook and Twitter.”

To get election and voting information, Pasco County residents are advised to visit www.PascoVotes.gov/newsroom or sign up to receive email updates. Signing up to receive emails can be accomplished at the bottom of the office’s website.

“Voters can be confident the information they’re getting is coming directly from the Supervisor of Elections office and there’s not any sort of agenda and whatnot,” Corley said.

The supervisor also ensured that access to the office will not be affected as it disconnects from social media networks.

“I want to be accessible and accountable to constituents and that hasn’t changed,” Corley said. “Voters can pick up the phone, as they often do. They can email. I return every phone call and every email, sometimes in the evenings and on the weekends, but that’s what my job is. So that part won’t change.

“I think by the measures we’ve taken, it will further the integrity of information through this election cycle. I feel good about what we’re doing, and I think it was the right move.”

Visitors to www.PascoVotes.gov will find updated information by scrolling down to Newsworthy under the first pulldown tab, “Supervisor of Elections.” Corley also posts periodic updates on the website, called Corley’s Corner, that can be found under the same tab. There is also a direct link to Corley’s Corner on the right side of the front page, under News.