Thanet Star

Is the council leader Anti-Bloggers?

This article was delayed due to consideration of the seriouseness of the apparent vieled threat made by Clive Hart (leader of Thanet Council). I have, however, decided that if a threat it was it can be stuck where the sun shines not.

Clive Hart does not, it seems, like questions and blocked a bunch of people on twitter including Thanet Star. What might be happening here and why?.

Now before we go on I should stop and explain what a twitter block is and is not. It is not a way to stop your tweets being read and commented on or of silencing critics or even of letting a person know you think that they are blogger scum.

Twitter assumes that public accounts (such as @CliveHart) have granted permission for everyone to subscribe. A twitter block is simply that permission removed one at a time (See support page for more). If you block me on twitter I'm no longer allowed to get your updates automatically but I can still go to your profile page and read what you say, I can reply and retweet but you will not be notified that this is happening. Ignorance being bliss and all that.

So in short: blocking someone on twitter is a way of ignoring them.

The side effect of this is that for an account like @ThanetStar is it is harder to keep up to date with all of politics because the "leader" of the council refuses to let his tweets appear on our homepage.

Clive Hart chose to ignore Thanet Star permanently when we asked the hard questions.


I asked the one Green Party member what he though about the twitter issue. I guess he blocks questions on twitter because he is entirely dependent on council officers drafting his letters, emails and speeches and is unable to give on-the-spot answers without access to officers. Said Ian Driver.

That's where #BlockedByCliveHart started.

It started as an idle musing on the way Thanet District Council's leader refused to talk to me about filming in meetings and the eviction of Mr Smithson from the public gallery for (I am told) typing notes during a full meeting of the council. (Although they claimed he was filming).

Clives objection started when In Touch With Thanet writer Mr Smithson was thrown out of the council offices for using a tablet PC to take notes and twitter folks wanted answers.

It seems Clive Hart has been blocking those who object to or even question TDC's filming policy rather than engaging in open debate with us. #BlockedByCliveHart was simply a way that we could self identify as no longer able to subscribe to his twitter feed.


When Thanet Star tried to get a sound bite from Clive (Thanet Star writer Matt was there and saw it all happen) Clive blocked Thanet Star too.

Well, that was mature.

I reached out to a few other people on twitter but no one really knew why Clive was blocking people on twitter. (The least effective block ever. So much so it needs a new name.)

When I contacted Clive (via Facebook) about it his brash manor and lack of insight into how Twitter works left me puzzled. Not to forget that he sems to have threatened me too.

My message to Clive said this Reporting politics in Thanet is hard enough without the politicians blocking us bloggers on twitter. I have observed that you block a lot of folks (@ThanetStar included) on twitter and I would like to give you an opportunity to comment before we go to press so to speak.

I think I was clear that the subject of the discussion was having Thanet Star's main twitter account blocked by Clive from getting his updates easily. Correct me if I am wrong in this because I don't want to say something that is untrue.

Clive Hart responded to our inquires about his potentially excessive "blocking" (twitter needs a better word) an hour later and called it Absolute nonsense. He went on to say that I've blocked a tiny number of people who have views I find offensive or who have abused me.

So let me get this right... Thanet Star is abusing him by asking questions or are our centre aligned politics too offensive for Clive's left wing agenda?

Clive ranted on to suggest that it was not his responsibility to 'host' nasty comments and thoughts on my own pages. At which point it was starting to become clear that Clive had no idea what he was talking about. Which to be fair is not surprising - Twitter is not for everyone.

Remember the blocks in question only stop you being told about the other person and give them a minor inconvenience if they want to read your stuff. It does not change the hosting of content (unlike, say a Facebook page).

I wonder if perhaps Clive had become confused after all Twitter and Facebook are nothing like each other so...

One person in particular has abused and republished my holiday photos and been heard to make threats against me and my colleagues. Said Clive Hart.

If someone has been threatening Clive then we, the news writers want to know. We want to know because if Clive truly feels threatened by that we want to ask the police what they have been doing to make him feel safe again.

On the other hand we also want to know what that has got to do with our question?

Clive Hart ranted on anyway: You surely don't believe I'm somehow obliged to continue allowing them to carry on like this and give them my blessing. Social media freedoms work both ways and I also have the right to block an individual if I feel justified.

Yes you do and, it seems, a right to avoid the question.

We put it to Clive that this was not entirely honest as he blocked Thanet Star (and others) for questioning actions taken by the chair of the meeting. A chair that it was alleged Clive delisted a good Labour councillor to safe seat into that role.

Clive did not reply.

We asked Would you be prepared to comment on the allegation that you also block those whose questions you do not like?

Clive did not reply to this question.

We asked clive Hart for links or evidence of abusive content from just two accounts he has blocked ours and Mr Smithson's.


Clive did not answer this question.

My life is an open book. Everything I post on Facebook or Twitter is open to the public. Said Clive Hart in closing. So take that as you will.

The problem here is that there is a lot of agression even in Clive's email and an extensive amount of missunderstanding of the technology. I will try to unpack some of that and hopefully bring some answer, peace and cohesion to all this.

In the meantime in the event that Clive posts something of note on Twitter please would someone do an old fashioned copy and paste retweet so we can see it. Thanks.

This story is not over.

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Public Comments

This Normal comment was left by Way Better :) [score: 0]:

So as you have already posted this laughable attempt to try to insinuate you've been threatened, can you explain where this "delay" is apparent, or is it simply sensationalist BS like the story itself...
07/12/2013 02:27:32
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