Chelsea Approves Social Media Policy

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By Doug Marrin

The Chelsea City Council approved the updated Social Media Policy for city employees and officials.  The draft, written in February, is below with a modification by Mayor Johnson at the end.

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The City recognizes that many of its employees, elected officials, appointed officials and board members use social media for personal communication and enjoyment. In general, the City views social media positively and respects the right of employees, elected officials, appointed officials and board members to use social media as a medium of self-expression. An employee’s, elected official (s) appointed official(s) and board member (s) online activities, however, can reflect negatively on the City or have negative consequences for the City, especially if you choose to identify yourself as a City employee, elected official, appointed official or board member or to discuss matters related to the City. This policy is designed to protect the City’s interests, while allowing its employees, elected and appointed officials and board members to engage in the use of social media as freely as possible.

Social media includes social networking sites (such as Facebook); video and photo-sharing websites (such as YouTube and Instagram); micro-blogging sites (such as Twitter); blogs, including corporate blogs, personal blogs, or blogs hosted by traditional media publications; forums and discussion boards; online encyclopedias (such as Wikipedia); and any other website that allows individuals to publish their own content or comment on content posted by others.

Some employees, as part of their job duties and responsibilities with the City, will be authorized to create social media content on behalf of the City. These employees will receive written authorization describing the content they are entitled to create and any restrictions or policies that apply to their individual circumstances.

Employees, elected and appointed officials and board members who use social media for personal use are reminded that they are personally responsible for the content of any social media they create. If you use social media, you must comply with the following:

A. GENERAL STANDARDS

1. Make it clear that the views you express are yours only and that they do not necessarily reflect the views of the City. You should neither claim nor imply you are speaking on the City’s behalf. If you identify yourself as a City employee, representative, elected or appointed official or board member, refer to the work done by City government, or provide a link to the City’s website, you are required to include the following disclaimer in a reasonably prominent place: “The views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of the City of Chelsea”

2. Do not disclose any confidential or proprietary information of the City or concerning residents of the City. Do not use any City logo in any social media posting.

3. Your social media postings should not violate any other applicable policy of the City, including those set forth in the Employee Handbook. You may not harass, defame, demean, or threaten any other person or entity.

4. Assume your social media posting is accessible to the general public. You must be respectful to the City, its employees, constituents, partners and affiliates, and others. Do not let your personal perspectives, opinions, or postings cause damage to the City and/or its interests.

5. If a member of the news media or blogger contacts you about a social media posting that concerns the City, refer that person to the Mayor or City Manager.

B. LIMITATIONS

1. No sexual, violent, racial, ethnically derogatory material, comments, pictures, artwork, video or other reference may be posted along with any City of Chelsea approved reference.

2. Employees, Elected and appointed officials and board members shall not post any material on the internet that brings discredit to or may adversely affect the efficiency or integrity of the City of Chelsea.

3. Employees, Elected and appointed officials and board members should consider the possible adverse consequences of internet postings, such as future employment, cross-examination in criminal cases, and public as well as private embarrassment.

4. Employees, Elected and appointed officials and board members are reminded to exercise good judgment and demonstrate personal accountability when choosing to participate on social networking sites.

5. Sites deemed inappropriate, whether an employment association or not, bringing discredit to the City, or to a City employee, elected or appointed official or board member or promoting misconduct, whether on or off duty, may be investigated through a criminal or administrative investigation.

C. FAILURE TO COMPLY

1. Failure of any employee, elected or appointed official to comply with the policy or violation of the policy is subject to discipline or censure, up to and including termination of employment or removal from elected or appointed office.

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During the discussion, Mayor Johnson added, “One of the things that I think is important to put in there for the City is to include under General Standards that City Staff, elected or appointed officials, must comply with all city, state or federal laws and regulations, including but not limited to First Amendment Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Information Act, privacy laws, public record laws, and copyright law.”

The Council approved the updated policy with Mayor Johnson’s addition.

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