A lesson in social media management

159

What if your business’ or organization’s Facebook (FB) page was taken over by someone you didn’t know and you have no control over social media communications that are made by that person? 

What if someone was posing as your business and posting things on your FB page contrary to what your business believes and unrelated to what your business does? 

What if you have no idea who that person is and you have no power to stop them? 

What do you do when FB tells you that only an administrator can solve the issue and you have no idea who that admin is?

Apparently, that is the position that the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) finds itself in these days. 

Earlier this month, SUN staff became aware of multiple posts pertaining to abortion and politics posted on SJWCD’s FB page.

A May 10 post on the district’s page reads: “I am disappointed so much had to go by the wayside to protect the right to abortion. I was especially appalled it was necessary to draft a bill to keep cops from lying to children; even more appalled Republicans thought it important to allow cops to lie to children; and most appalled that Democrats were willing to give up on the bill.” The headline of the Denver Post article reads: “This is what Colorado Democrats gave up to end an 18-hour GOP filibuster.”

SJWCD board member Doug Secrist asked on the post, “Who is posting this???” 

He had zero response to his question.

The SJWCD Board of Directors claims not to know who is posting to its FB page. In a board meeting it was stated that they have no control over the page. They have tried, unsuccessfully, to get control of the page through the powers that be at FB.

The SUN reached out to former SJWCD board member John Porco about the page and he confirmed he has no access to the page and has never posted to the page. His former email address is still listed as a page contact.

There is also an unrelated and disconnected phone number listed on the page.

The SUN reached out to FB pertaining to the page two weeks ago with no response.

We also reached out to a former admin of the page, Rod Proffitt, and he directed us back to the SJWCD board “for any questions you might have.” Proffitt left the district back in 2018 and was recently reappointed to the board.

On May 6, the SJWCD posted a political YouTube video named “Two Plans”; ironically, Proffitt posted the same thing the very next day to his page.

No one seems to know who posted on April 16 and engaged the public on behalf of the district: “Nothing says ‘hypocrite’ quite like Republicans touting small government while using government to force women to take a pregnancy to term no matter the circumstances. Nothing says ‘hypocrite’ like Republicans touting patriotism while plotting sedition and violence to overthrow the will of the people. Nothing says ‘hypocrite’ like Republicans demeaning ‘activist’ judges while trying to stack the court with judges that think money is speech and corporations deserve to be protected by the Constitution … there is now no real Republican Party; only a cult of Trump with no political platform and no pretense to support democracy in any form.” The link under the statement takes you to a Washington Post story: “The rapidly-changing state of abortion access in America.”

Comments on that post had one person ask, “What does this have to do with water?”

SJWCD responded, “It doesn’t. It was suppose to go on my personal page. After seeing your comment, I tried to find a way to take it down and couldn’t.”

Secrist asked, “Who is creating this post???”

SJWCD board member Susan Nossaman commented, “I don’t believe it is appropriate to post this type of article.”

On June 30 at 1:56 p.m., Proffitt posted a link to a YouTube video: “Water With Your Lunch: Know Your Snow” on his personal page. He wrote: “Excellent presentation of the problem and the solution.”

Ironically, one minute later someone posted the exact same post on the SJWCD page. That comment was slightly different: “Excellent presentation!” 

What are the odds?

On May 24, there was a post shared by the SJWCD concerning #Drought. This one was unique in that there are two “Likes” on the post: SJWCD and Rodney B. Proffitt. 

A little investigation reveals that there are about 20 posts that were actually water-related that were posted on Proffitt’s FB page between May and July that were also posted on SJWCD’s page, some at the same time, some within minutes and a couple within a day or two. 

For instance:

On July 3, a “discussion of climate change” was posted at the same time on Proffitt’s page and SJWCD’s page, too: “‘Engine Trouble’: How greenhouse gas threaten our world.” 

That exact same day, “Colorado’s drought is bad. Tree ring history shows it could get a lot worse” was posted just seven minutes apart on the two pages.



















Screenshots of these examples can be seen at www.pagosasun.com under “Our View” in the opinion section.

You’ll even find where the FB imposter is engaging in dialogue on the district page with someone over climate change.

There is ample evidence that something is questionable about this apparently inexplicable situation. After all, even the board has said it has no idea who is making the posts.

It is important to note that we do not mean to imply that Proffitt, or any other board member for that matter, is involved on any level in making these posts on the SJWCD page. The duplication and timing of these posts that we found could be purely coincidence, and we did peruse all of the board member’s FB pages that we could find for similarities in posts. FB pages get hacked all the time.

We are certainly not rocket scientists. We won’t even begin to explain the multiple theories we’ve come up with.

For awhile we actually considered someone was stalking Proffitt’s FB page and mimicking his posts; however, sometimes we found that the water district posted items before Proffitt did.

The district has been trying to repair its reputation and garner support over the years. We don’t see how these FB posts can be working well toward restoring community trust. 

The work this board should be doing has never been more important. It is time for the FB imposter to step up and close the page down before more damage is done.

If your organization or business has a Facebook (FB) page, it is important that you have control of that page and that you are the admin of that page or that you trust the person who has admin capabilities over your page or you may find your business facing a similar fiasco.

Terri Lynn Oldham House