The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
As a byproduct of the digital age that we live in, new laws and recent events have created tension between a government's transparency and the privacy of the people who work for it. If you work in the public sector, consider how your work-affiliated and personal use of social media may affect the capacity in which you operate as a public employee. When you use your personal social media account, it is vital to delineate if you are acting in an official or personal capacity. By using social media to communicate with the public on behalf of your government agency or municipality, you risk having your account overtaken as government property, and its contents become subject to requests for public records.
As Elected Officials, Mayors, City Counselors, Selectmen, Department and Division Heads, it is your responsibility to educate your employees about their roles as public servants and the weight that their voices have when posting in public forums on social platforms. When your employee speaks out in a group chat or a social media channel that is not private, they are not only putting themselves at risk – they are putting the reputation of your government agency at risk. If an employee starts or stops speaking on behalf of the agency, they should indicate their change of status on the social media platform and allow for a clear delineation between when they are acting in an official or personal capacity.
To safeguard your employees from falling into potential social media pitfalls, it is imperative to have a social media policy in place. A social media policy is not a one-size-fits-all for every community. Our team has over ten years under our belt when it comes to developing the right policy to fit your agency/community. We also provide your employees the resources needed to create a safe social environment to express themselves, without risking their career or the integrity of your community.
At Capital Strategic Solutions, we’ve been working with communities across the Commonwealth to strengthen their brand, disseminate their messages and to empower their employees to be brand ambassadors. Contact us today to schedule your next social media consultation or to discuss an exclusively written social media policy that fits your community. Visit www.capital-strategic-solutions.com, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (508) 690-0046.