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Monday, September 26, 2011

Checklist for Drafting a Social Media Policy (Part 1)

A local government considering establishing a community Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking site should first adopt a social media policy to govern the administration and monitoring of site content, set ground rules for public input and comments, and adopt policies for employee usage of social media. 
Part one of this article focuses on policies for administration and content of the social media site:
1.         Purpose
The policy should contain a statement that the use of social media by the government entity is for the purpose of obtaining or conveying information that is useful to, or will further the goals of, the government.
2.         Approval and Administration
The policy should provide for an administrator to oversee and supervise the social media networking sites of the government.  The administrator should be trained regarding the terms of the policy and his or her responsibilities to review content to ensure it complies with the policy and furthers the government's goals. 
3.         Comment Policy
The policy should identify the type of content that is not permitted on a social media site and that is subject to removal.  This might include comments that are not relevant to the original topic, profane, obscene, or violent content, discriminatory content, threats, solicitation of business, content that violates a copyright or trademark, and any content in violation of federal, state, or local law.  The policy should also contain a disclaimer that any comment posted by a member of the public is not the opinion of the government.  Finally, the policy should include language that reserves the right of the administrator to remove content that violates the policy or any applicable law.
4.         Compliance with Laws
The policy should include language regarding compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and policies. It should be made clear that content posted on a government site is subject to FOIA and record retention laws.  In addition, content posted on social media sites may be subject to e-discovery laws.  Finally, information that is protected by copyright or trademark should not be posted or maintained on a social media site unless permission has been granted by the owner of the intellectual property.
Stay tuned for part two of this article, which will focus on policies for employee usage of social media.


  1. I think social networks should be controlled too.
    Just like any sphere of our lives it should follow rules.
    I like the way you put it: point by point.
    thank you for the post!

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