Further to posting this comment on The Herald website regarding the news piece on the use of spy accounts http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/council-chief-in-online-spy-accounts-row-is-suspended.16720638 (it needs to be moderated before being published and I don’t know when that will be), I thought that due to the fair amount of “buzz” it is receiving on Twitter, that I should give you visibility of my comment which puts the story into context. In the next few days, I also hope to get a number of the delegates that attended the event to also provided their comment and feedback on this story.

“It’s with increasing incredulity that I’ve followed your coverage of alleged comments made by a speaker at a very successful event in Glasgow five months ago.

As organiser of the event allow me to comment since you failed to have the courtesy to approach me in order to cast some much-needed light and balance onto the subject.

Jo Smith, of Argyll & Bute Council, was selected onto the panel because she has carved a sound reputation for her work with social media.

Far from the storm of outrage your report suggests there was not a single complaint about Jo’s presentation or comment on the day nor since. Looking back at feedback forms she topped the list with the highest rated feedback.

The phrase ‘spy accounts’ was featured in the presentation in speech marks deliberately as they referred informally to individuals  referring back what they’d seen elsewhere voluntarily rather than some dastardly plot. The phrase was given deliberate context in the conference. This is reflected by the complete absence of a complaint from anyone in the audience.

Believe me, with 12 years experience of running events across Britain let me assure you that delegates are not afraid of coming forward if they have a complaint.

Such is my strength of feeling over this I’m volunteering to take part in any investigation by Argyll & Bute Council which I trust will be more fair minded and methodical that the Glasgow Herald piece.

Against that we have a thus far unnamed source who I can’t confirm was even at the event, that never complained to me during or after the event, has all of a sudden decided to stop mulling it over and come forward now after five months. Strange also that your reporter never thought to contact those who organised it.

In the interests of transparency, may I remind people that Jo’s powerpoint presentation remains available to view at:  http://publicsectorweb.com/digital-engagement/documents/presentations-from-epic-social-media-scotland/ which is the official website of the conference.”

Nick Hill
Public Sector Web Network

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  • Palmer Eldritch

    Why would the Herald ask you for your opinion? You’re not responsible for the presentations given by speakers at the event.

    When you say “there was not a single complaint about Jo’s presentation or comment on the day nor since” I assume you mean there was no complaint or comment as part of the conference proceedings, or to you personally. But the story doesn’t claim there was, so I don’t see your point.

    If you are trying to claim that there has simply been no comment or complaint made anywhere at all, I wonder if you could explain how you know that? It seems to me that you couldn’t possibly know.

    I’m not certain what you mean when you say her comments ” referred informally to individuals  referring back what they’d seen elsewhere voluntarily”. Perhaps you could explain more clearly.

    The Herald quotes Ms Smith explaining exactly what she meant. “It was about trying to create a separate account different from your normal one that you have holiday photographs on. ‘Spy account’ was shorthand for it being another identity, to take you into a place that you wouldn’t be comfortable using your main account. I’m sure people do this all the time.”

    Assuming the Herald aren’t lying and that really is what she spoke about – you talk about “alleged” comments but don’t explain why you use that word – I’m actually a bit surprised that there was no debate whatsoever at the conference. For one thing, it breaks Facebook’s terms of service. Nobody raised that at the time?? Can you tell us who was at the conference please?

    • http://twitter.com/psfnick Nick Hill


      First of all, thanks for feeding back.

      You are correcct in saying that I’m not responsible for the presentations on the day but I would be well placed to provide them with comment and other sources to corroborate their story.

      The story identifies that many of the professional communicators attending the event were uncomfortable about it yet feedback on the day along with the delegate feedback forms do not corroborate these claims.

      If you read my comment, I am commenting from the viewpoint of the person that will be the point of contact for delegates, speakers and other participants on the day. I state that I had no one complain to me in person, on the feedback forms (copies of which will be sent to Argyll & Bute Council for their internal investigation) nor had anyone been in touch with me via email or by other means to complain.

      I cannot comment on there being on comments/complaints elsewhere as I do not have this information.

      The presentation included information about local people reporting back to the council voluntarily with information and I believe there was also content on the difference between the creation of a Group (Page) and an Identity (profile)

      I am going to be providing Argll & Bute Council along with whoever is responsbile for the investigation my full cooperation and access to feedback forms, delegates etc.

      I hope the Argyll & Bute can settle this situation once and for all by publishing all Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts that they have registered and control so everthing can be as transparent as possible.

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