Michelle Wu calls out use of shared Globe account to attack leaders in comments section

“Generally speaking, the people who could access this account are people who are entrusted by our residents to do the business of the people.”

Mayor Michelle Wu.
Mayor Michelle Wu. Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe, File

Mayor Michelle Wu on Wednesday addressed the recent controversy that a subscription to the Boston Globe, shared by city councilors and their staff, had been used by a person or persons to attack city leaders online in the paper’s comments section for more than a year. 


The Globe reported last week on the use of the shared account to target Wu, her staff and 11 of the 13 members of Boston City Council. 

Wu’s comments on the situation came during a Wednesday appearance on the online radio show “Java with Jimmy.”  

When host James “Jimmy” Hills began to ask a question about the account shared by city staff, the mayor jumped in to point out that city counselors also had access to the subscription.


“Just saying,” she said. 

Wu went on to say the situation is an example of “the reality of being in politics today” regardless of whether the comments were coming from a city account.

“The ability to be anonymous and communicate with people has been completely weaponized, and the level of what is accepted now or tolerated and modeled, I would say, by a lot of national figures or other people that are often in the news — it’s very different,” Wu said. “Even in the last couple of years. I think anyone who has been on social media a lot has felt the intensity of this level of trolling, verging on abuse and harassment, go up everywhere.”

She called the situation around the Globe subscription “unfortunate.”

“Because … generally speaking, the people who could access this account are people who are entrusted by our residents to do the business of the people,” Wu said. “And there’s so much business to be done. You could use every minute that you have, that people are, again, electing you and your teams, to write an ordinance, to disagree publicly, to advocate, to file budget requests or amendments.”


Boston, the mayor said, needs to be a place that is not just “doing the work” but also creating space for people to feel welcome, safe, and empowered in “doing the work collectively.”

“That kind of anonymous swiping in particular, I think, is really harmful for that,” Wu said. “And the fact that it was a city account makes it even more subject to questions around appropriateness of the behavior. But whether it was city or not city, the fact that we’re even having this conversation is a distraction about what actually needs to be done. Which is a whole lot on housing, on schools, on jobs.”

According to the Globe, city councilors and staff were told Tuesday that “comments are not to be posted” on the newspaper’s stories using the city’s shared subscription. Several dozen people working in City Hall had access to the account, and, according to the Globe, a person or persons used the subscription, commenting under the screen name “Interested Party,” to attack city leaders. 

“Central Staff will be monitoring activity on the account and reporting any future comments,” Central Staff Director Michelle Goldberg wrote in a Tuesday afternoon email to councilors and their aides, according to the Globe. “Access to the news is important for us, as Councilors and staffers, to stay on top of current events and do our jobs, so I’m asking everyone to take care to protect and respect our shared resources.”


The account has been canceled and the login information for a different shared subscription to the newspaper is being updated, Goldberg reportedly told staff, warning that the credentials “are not to be shared with friends, family, or anyone who does not work for City Council.”

According to the Globe, no comments have been made using “Interested Party” since April 25, when the newspaper’s report was published. All 13 councilors have reportedly told the publication they did not author comments on the account.


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