Popular Facebook page closing

Published 9:24 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A popular Western Branch Facebook community page will be closed down, its founder said, as a result of cyber-bullying.

Kathy Reagan Young, founder of Facebook page Western Branch — Growing Forward, announced on Saturday she would be terminating the page.

“I feel completely battle-weary and bruised,” Young stated in a post on the page.

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According to her post, during the last several months, the bullying stemmed from one user who had been sending aggressive and negative messages to her. She eventually blocked the user, but his abrasive comments continued on Everything Western Branch, another Facebook community page.

The user was then accompanied by others who continued to bash Young and her Facebook page. They attacked her mental health and her influence in the community, among other things.

On several occasions, Young contacted the users to resolve the matter, but the users wouldn’t communicate with her, so she decided she would close the group.

However, on Tuesday, she announced several members from the WBGF page would keep the movement alive by launching a new page, Western Branch Coming Together. She plans to delete the WBGF page at the end of this week.

Young was appreciative of the members stepping up.

“I offered them on more than one occasion to jump ship, because I thought my detractors would probably come after them, too, and they said ‘No, we’ve got your six,’” she said in a video post on the WBGF page.

The members decided to make the new page private to prevent unsolicited engagement. Now, they have the grueling task of responding to thousands of requests for the new page. To date, there are more than 2,300 members and counting.

Young encouraged her supporters to remain positive about her decision.

“Get better, not bitter,” Young said in the video post.

Young started the Facebook page last May to connect the Western Branch community. As of Saturday, there were more than 6,600 members.

The page shared information about local businesses, services and events. Specifically, “Marketing Mondays” granted several local businesses exposure and promotion. The page also served as a platform to discuss local issues, including business closures and new construction projects.

The Facebook page experienced such overwhelming success that it prompted Young to form a new company, Hometown Marketing. The company has paired with Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism to sponsor farmers’ markets at the Western Branch Community Center.

In addition, she developed a new website, www.growthebranch.com. People can register to receive emails, a WBGF newsletter and text alerts. She plans to continue the email list as she hears of new developments in the community.