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Hingham Pinboard Shuts Down After Administrators Disagree Over Policy

Kristen Arute, Hingham Current Staff, September 7, 2020

Image taken from Facebook

Hingham Pinboard, a mainstay on social media for just under 8 years, has been shut down after a disagreement among its administrators over the handling of a group member's post about "America Backs the Blue" signs. The group, which was founded in 2012 by Kay Praschma and has close to 8,000 members, was established as a resource for residents looking for anything from favorite restaurants to paint colors and has seen many iterations of administrators over the years.

 

There is more to managing a Facebook group than meets the eye, especially given the particularly divisive climate that can be found on social media, and Pinboard has not been immune to controversy. Much of it has stemmed from the implementation of strict policies that were created by Praschma and others and were designed to maintain fairness and adhere to the mission of the group. Businesses were allowed to post a certain number of times per week, and local political candidates could do the same. Individuals were not allowed to "spam" group members by posting repeatedly, and people were not allowed to publicly shame others with photographs or commentary. "We never excluded politics, except national politics," said Praschma. "However we did change it over time because discussions got out of hand."

 

Due to the stringent nature of the guidelines and the unwavering implementation of the admins, many group members became disgruntled. People voiced their displeasure, and some have created various spin-offs over the years.

 

Recently Praschma was helping distribute "America Backs the Blue" lawn signs that had been donated to Hingham residents by an anonymous benefactor. She shared this information in various groups on Facebook, one of which was Hingham Pinboard, in the same manner as other people have used Pinboard as a platform to distribute signs. Praschma's post was initially approved by the admins because it did not violate any guidelines; however, it was taken down after someone complained about it.

 

In a Facebook post on her own personal page, Praschma described her experience. "So apparently my post about 'Back the Blue' signs has been taken down from the Hingham Pinboard, the very group that I created. I guess it is too offensive?" she said. "But other posts (such as the BLM signs, PTO signs, red heart signs) are ok in that group. Wake up people! Freedom of speech is under attack. Even in your very own town. If the Hingham Pinboard was trying to prevent discussions, then all they had to do was turn off commenting." 

 

People have responded by saying that the refusal to allow Praschma's post is "just another form of bullying that's being allowed" and they are "disappointed with the cancel culture." One longtime resident said that "the HINGHAM Pinboard should be ashamed of themselves for not letting both sides speak." Someone else suggested that "there is a very vocal group of intolerant people in this town that have no interest in even considering other opinions."

 

As the founder of the original Pinboard, Praschma was not only responsible for drafting guidelines, but she was also in charge of helping to administer those guidelines even in the face of pushback from group members. So it is ironic that she would find herself on the receiving end of a questionable interpretation of the guidelines she helped write. It is more ironic still that the admins have shut Hingham Pinboard down after a disagreement over how to handle a post from the very person who created the group. "I appreciate that they stepped up as admins," said Praschma responding to the news, "and I'm sad that the group is no longer going to be used."

 

A post at the top of the Hingham Pinboard group page reads, "This group has been archived. An admin archived this group on September 6, 2020. You can't create posts, like, comment or add more members, but you can still view all posts." The fact that Pinboard has been taken down disappoints Praschma. "The Hingham Pinboard has done so much for this community," she said. "So many small businesses rely on that group. We wanted to keep it positive."

 

A complete list of the guidelines for Hingham Pinboard can be found by clicking here.

Kristen Arute can be reached at kristen@hinghamcurrent.com.