Social media uproar as USACA secretary cuts loose
USA Cricket Association (USACA) treasurer John Thickett has asked president Gladstone Dainty and the board to consider suspending executive secretary Kenwyn Williams and investigate his role in a protracted and angry exchange with journalists and stakeholders on the official USACA Facebook page. Dainty, according to emails obtained by ESPNcricinfo, has asked other board members to give their input on the issue before making a decision, and at least one other senior official - vice-president Michael Gale - has criticised Williams' actions.
In his response, Williams argued that his outbursts on the Facebook page have been positive for USACA because it has resulted in increased traffic and visitors to the page.
The matter relates to an article that referred to a widening rift between Williams and other members of the board over a press release issued earlier this month. The article - by this reporter - was posted on USACA's Facebook page, which is managed by Williams, with a preface calling it an example of "unethical journalistic bias". The resulting thread resulted in heated exchanges between Williams - commenting under the USACA name - and other readers.
It prompted emails from Thickett and others critical of Willams' actions. "I have received communications from several USACA Board members and cricket stakeholders regarding USACA postings on USACA's Facebook account operated by Williams," Thickett wrote in an email on Wednesday afternoon. "They don't believe the USACA postings reflect the views of USACA and are in fact denigrating to various individuals, organisations and USACA. I am requesting you as president to consider suspending Williams from his role as executive secretary pending an investigation of the postings and a review and decision by the Board."
In his email, Gale pointed to the commercial opportunities that could be put at risk. "We are at a very sensitive time with the development of cricket in the US," Gale wrote, a reference to USACA's partnership with New Zealand Cricket to form a professional domestic Twenty20 league next summer as part of Cricket Holdings America. "The need to build one community that shares goals and objectives has been put very much at the front of the group in the last 12 to 15 months. It is essential that we continue to drive forward in a positive, collaborative and agreed manner. The types of communications we are seeing from Mr Williams directly impede our collective abilities to do that both in the US and with our partners at a more global level."
Email responses made by Williams back to the board allege that his family has been threatened and "is now secured by police officers" in New Jersey, where he lives. He also made the statement that the Facebook thread has resulted in increased visitors to the page. USACA's Facebook page had been "liked" by 200 people on October 13 and that number has grown to 300 by October 18.
"We are at a place where we have never been before," Williams wrote. "The Facebook feed and the Twitter feed will keep growing. Maybe Michael [Gale] can explain what trending on Twitter means! Instead of looking at the negative, look at the positive marketing position the brand USACA has attained. By the way this is no defence by me. I am actually indifferent as to your decision. This board has disrespected me on several levels already and has a history of making excuses to suspend its members."
The USACA website remained silent on the issue till Thursday afternoon, when a message was posted on its front page in an attempt to restore order.
"USACA wants to make it clear that the postings on a Facebook site purporting to represent USACA are neither representative of the board and organisation, nor should this Facebook site, comments and use of the official USACA logo be seen as USACA's official Facebook presence," said the message on usaca.org. "We are in the process of investigating how this site is being managed. Until this is resolved please do not reference any Facebook or Twitter site as sanctioned USACA content and opinions."