The Neshoba Democrat will suspend its page on the social networking site Facebook today indefinitely until there can be a thorough review of social media policies and functions, it was announced by James E. Prince III, president and publisher.

The Democrat will suspend the page at 4 p.m., on Wednesday, June 13, 2012.

The decision comes after a normal news post on Monday about the death of a little girl left in a car for an extended period exploded into a raging debate in the comments section and elsewhere as users demanded posts they found offensive be removed and personally attacked one another.

Several people said they are organizing advertising boycotts and encouraging readers to cancel subscriptions. Some accused the newspaper of allowing bullying and profiting off of the tragedy.

"Shutting down the electronic public square or otherwise interfering with free speech goes against the fundamental tenants of the Constitution and our own principles, but we have no intention of driving a wedge in this community at this time," said Prince.

"We apologize any hurt this may have caused the family and for completely misjudging the ability of our community to exercise personal responsibility and decency in an open forum."

"As Jefferson said, an informed electorate is necessary for a democracy to function."

The Democrat's Facbook page has been an open forum since the page was established several years ago and comments are not monitored.

Meanwhile, for those wishing to follow news, they can do so by signing up for a Twitter account at:

Prince said that some time in the future a community group may be formed to study the issue of social media and asked to make a recommendation on how to proceed.

"We are in the news reporting business, not the nanny speech police business. This community needs to step back and take a deep breath," Prince said.

The Democrat is also immediately suspending electronic comments on its website, Prince said, because as of now there is no sure way to verify identities of the authors.

Readers who have an opinion are encouraged to write to the editor: Jim Prince, P.O. Box 30, Philadelphia, MS 39350 or drop correspondence off in person at 439 Beacon Street downtown.