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Controller calls for investigation of threatening online comments


February 20. 2013 12:41AM
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An online comment and other postings by someone dubbed WBYup in the comment section on an area newspaper's website prompted Luzerne County Controller Walter Griffith and Kingston resident Brian Shiner to ask the district attorney to investigate.


One comment that appeared on The Citizens' Voice website read: I wish you and Walter were dead!


Griffith gave the district attorney a copy of comments that appeared after a Dec. 28 online article in The Citizens' Voice. He said the comments, which were later removed, made him very concerned for my safety as well as the safety of several council members.


The County Controller is an elected official and also a person that has been very instrumental in holding our government accountable, therefore I am very concerned about this type of behavior in light of the recent action that was part of the news in Sandy Hook, CT, Griffith wrote in a letter to District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis. The letter was copied to council members.


Salavantis confirmed Thursday she received information from Griffith and Shiner but said she had not had a chance to review the material. It's expected her office will assess whether the comments rise to the level of a threat.


Griffith and Shiner said they want Salavantis to obtain the identity of the poster and pursue criminal charges.


The wish-you-were-dead posting followed an online comment by Shiner, who posted under his real name.


WBYup also said Shiner was a DOG and promised to tear into several county council members like you cannot imagine if they run for re-election this year, Griffith's documents said.


The post, which apparently addressed some council members, stated: You failed me, now it's time to get some revenge … I'm gonna ruin all your lives, your reputations just like you did mine, you dogs!


Shiner said he also provided information to county Manager Robert Lawton about an online comment that made false accusations against Lawton. In this day and age, this is not something to be taken lightly, said Shiner. This is a concern, not just for county officials, but also citizens.


In his letter, Griffith told Salavantis very dangerous and inflammatory comments have appeared in the online newspaper comment sections of both The Citizens' Voice and The Times Leader, though he did not supply copies of examples in the latter.


Many news websites across the country allow online commenting under real names or anonymously after posters register with an email address.


Shiner said he isn't advocating editing of comments before they're posted, but he believes posters who repeatedly cross the line with personal threats and bullying should have their posting privileges suspended after warning from a moderator.




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