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City of Lambertville to Change Communications Plan

DECEMBER 7, 2020— Lambertville, NJ — The City of Lambertville officially announced a plan to change the way it communicates with its residents. Beginning December 20th, the City will terminate public communications via its Facebook page. The page will remain online, but will serve as a place for residents to find resource links without the ability for residents to comment. A plan is in place to triage all messages that were previously communicated via Facebook to other channels, including email, text and voicemail. 
 
"At this juncture, the Governing Body has decided that the City Facebook page is causing more harm than good as it relates to our communication with City residents," said Mayor Julia Fahl. "This does not, in any way, change our commitment to communication and transparency. We will continue to engage the community in conversation through open meetings, office hours, newsletters and text messages."
 
Mayor Fahl ran on a platform of open communication and transparency when she was elected Mayor, taking office in January 2019. Though a City Facebook page existed prior to her administration, the frequency of communication vastly increased at her direction. Meeting reminders, Facebook Live chats and volunteer spotlights were implemented with almost daily posts about Lambertville-centric information about garbage collection, street sweeping and parking meters.  However, the tone of the commenters frequenting the page slowly turned from friendly to downright uncivil and inappropriate as the Governing Body continued to post for the sake of transparency and communication.
 
"From national politics to documentaries like The Social Dilemma and Rabbit Hole by the New York Times, evidence continues to mount that social media creates a tribal, polarized environment in which misinformation spreads and the truth becomes distorted. It becomes impossible for people to differentiate between facts and falsehoods, and civil discourse devolves into bullying and hatred. It's hard enough to watch these scenarios play out on national or worldwide stages, but when it hits our own little community, it all bleeds into real life. As a City, we have decided we aren't willing to contribute to the problem anymore," said Fahl.
 
Plans will be made available to the public that will detail where members of the public should go to get information. As always, all information will be available on lambertvillenj.org, but work is underway to create additional dashboards on the website as well as a more frequent email newsletter. The Lambertville Matters mailed newsletter will continue on a quarterly basis.  Prior to the covid-19 pandemic, Mayor Fahl held in-person office hours twice per month, seeing more than 500 residents in her tenure so far. Virtual office hours are being scheduled for 2021.
 
"We can't dictate the behavior of all people on social media, but we can control how we contribute to the problem. We view this decision as a conscious choice toward positive, healthy civic discourse and getting back to the fundamental truth: we are all neighbors."