Negative posts will get you banned from Haley's Facebook page
Who knew Gov. Nikki Haley loved '80s rock so much?
If you're one of the 32,000-plus fans of the governor's Facebook page -- facebook.com/nikkihaley -- you know that and a lot of other personal details of the governor's daily life inside and outside the governor's mansion.
At a time when many businesses and politicians are hiring consultants to handle social media for them, Haley's office said the vast majority of Facebook posts are made by the governor herself.
The posts appear at all times of the day and night, about what songs she's listening to, her family's reviews of the latest movies and how to pre-order her new book.
She also uses the account to speak out on issues and against her rivals. A year ago she accused a Columbia-area TV station of tabloid journalism for doing a story on her that she didn't like, and more recently she slammed unions and called out a handful of senators by name who voted against restructuring state government.
Some of her former followers said she's not as apt to take what she dishes out. A number of people have recently taken to their own Twitter and Facebook accounts and blogs to complain about being banned from the governor's page for disagreeing with her, while her supporters are allowed to comment at will.
Logan Stewart said she "Liked" the governor's page to keep up with state politics after she moved out of state, but was banned after about five posts, including one in which she challenged the governor's numbers on job creation.
Stewart said ultimately the governor can do what she wants with her own Facebook page, but an unwillingness to accept differing opinions sends the wrong message, "especially for an elected official who campaigned on transparency. I just don't think that's right."
Spokesman Rob Godfrey said the governor's office does not have a social media policy. He said the governor maintains her own page but will sometimes ask staff to post an update for her "in that rare instance she is unable to access her page."
He released this statement from Haley: "I have always put a priority on direct access with the people. I manage my own Facebook account for whatever I choose to talk about that day. I welcome debate and opposing opinions. What I won't allow is disrespect or hate on what is my Facebook page."
Stewart and Frank Martinez of Summerville said they were neither hateful nor disrespectful before they were banned from posting on the governor's page.
"There was no rhyme or reason to it," Martinez said of being banned. "I can't believe she can say that with a straight face."
Stewart, a marketing and public relations manager for a large nonprofit, spends a lot of time on social media, and she credited the governor with handling her own account.
"To her credit she does a great job sprinkling in personal anecdotes and family stories," Stewart said.
Stewart, a vocal Democrat, said the governor could win herself some points even among her critics if she engaged them and their arguments rather than acting as if they simply didn't exist.
Ryan Thornburg, an assistant professor with a special interest in online journalism at the University of North Carolina's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said some political figures might use social media to try to change opinions, while others use it to rally their base.
Of Haley's statement, Thornburg said, "That all sounds great in theory, but what constitutes 'hateful' and 'disrespectful' is a subjective thing."
Many Facebook users have experienced backlash, justified and not justified, for deleting comments from their pages. He said the best way to prevent that is to state a clear policy on what type of comments are allowed and what is not allowed and to address why comments are deleted. But deleting comments shouldn't be taken lightly.
"It would be more effective to answer that question than delete it," he said.
Martinez admitted to never being much of a supporter of Haley, but said he followed her page to know what was she was up to. He said he was banned shortly after questioning how the governor had time to write a book and campaign in other states.
Martinez's wife, Trinity, posted a screen capture of her husband's post on her blog. It read: "Wow, when did she find this time to write this book and campaign for others? Stay at your desk until South Carolina is doing better. It's obvious Nikki is using this position to catapult into national politics. We've got another dud, guys."
While Martinez's post got him banned from Haley's page, he noted that posts praising the governor and calling him an idiot are allowed to stand.
"Funny, because she says she didn't want disrespectful comments," Martinez said.