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Fish and Game's Anti-Social Network

State agency shuts down Facebook page.

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The Idaho Department of Fish and Game regularly deals with wild animals, but perhaps nothing is more untamed than Facebook. That's why the state agency recently decided to shut down its social network.

"There was a time when we tried blocking some individuals," said Mike Keckler, chief of IDFG's Bureau of Communications. "But then we decided to pull that back. Over time, things would self-moderate. But then something would occur and the comments would take off again."

Keckler told Citydesk that many of the comments were becoming too personal.

"Some of the comments were about the agency, which was OK in some cases," he said. "But we had some [verbal] attacks on employees that we didn't think were appropriate."

Keckler said he and his staff tried to police the site, but to no avail.

"We were spending way too much time looking at it. We had some employees who were trying to moderate [Facebook] in the middle of the night, which was crazy," said Keckler. "I was doing that for a while, and realized I was literally losing sleep over this."

Ultimately, the agency decided to step away from Facebook, which at last count included 3,500 "friends."

"It was an interesting experiment; let's put it that way," said Keckler. "What we're going to try to do is focus more on our website and see if there's a way to introduce two-way dialogue there."

Keckler said the comments circled a number of topics, with more than a few aimed at wolf management.

"There were some pretty caustic arguments, both pro and con, about wolves," he said. "And we had a number of people on both sides of arguments calling on us to moderate the page better. But we just didn't have the time or manpower to properly moderate it."

Keckler told Citydesk that Facebook "is a wonderful tool" but the agency needed to focus elsewhere.

"When it comes to wildlife, people are very passionate," he said. "And on occasion, that passion got a little out-of-hand."

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