Oyster Bay Town government has restored its official Facebook presence after weeks of criticism over Supervisor Joseph Saladino replacing it with his own page.
The move comes after Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) on Monday urged Saladino to bring back the official town page.
On Thursday, the links to Saladino’s Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts had disappeared from the Oyster Bay Town website homepage and a link to the new town Facebook page had appeared.
“There was only one right thing for them to do and that was to restore the page,” Lavine said Thursday.
Lavine had also criticized the town’s policy of deleting comments and banning users from posting on Saladino’s page. He repeated his call for a clear policy.
“I hope that the administration of the town or the government of the town is going to develop and adopt a public policy defining how the page will operate,” Lavine said.
The town’s Facebook page on Thursday did not include a policy on comments.
Former town board candidate Robert Freier, a Democrat, said Thursday that restoring the town’s Facebook page was “the proper thing to do.” Freier, who had been blocked from posting on Saladino’s page, said he was now able to post on the town’s page.
“I hope they will honor free speech from here on out,” Freier said.
At the Jan. 23 town board meeting, Saladino, a Republican, told Freier he had been blocked because his administration was “protecting the public from inaccurate information,” but did not provide examples.
A statement released Thursday by Oyster Bay spokeswoman Marta Kane said, “The streamlined social media presence offers residents a centralized location for current news, programs, animal adoptions and services offered by the Town of Oyster Bay. This process has been ongoing for sometime now and will be finalized in the days ahead.”
In December, Kane told Newsday the town’s Facebook page had been removed and replaced with Saladino’s “because it [the town page] was a duplicative effort with the supervisor’s page.”
The restored page appears to be a Facebook page that had been created for the department of community services, but renamed to be the official town page. Posts on the community services page, which no longer exists, went back several months and mostly described town-sponsored concerts and events for children and seniors.
Saladino’s Facebook page continued to be updated Thursday.
The town officials have not disclosed who had been operating Saladino’s Facebook page other than to say it was being handled by several people.
Facebook, which doesn’t charge users to create and maintain pages, but does charge for advertising, was an expense for Saladino’s election bid. Campaign finance records show that from July through December, his campaign made 64 payments to Facebook totaling $44,321.