Worcester’s New Social Media Policy

The City of Worcester’s Social Media & Information Sharing webpage now includes a Social Media Policy document [PDF link] dated Fri 16 Mar 2012 08:36:47 AM EDT.

We’re waiting to hear back from the City about whether this is brand-new; the time stamp, and its absence from Google’s previous cache of this page, are suggestive.

A petition on this very issue was submitted to the City Council this week:

9u. Joe Scully request the creation of a public records and data retention policy regarding the use of social media technology to support increased transparency and openness in government.

That petition was referred to the Rules and Legislative Affairs Committee. If you have any thoughts on improving this policy, that would be a good forum to present them.

(h/t Kevin Ksen)

The text of the document:

City of Worcester Social Media Policy

This policy establishes guidelines for the use of social media sites (including but not
limited to Facebook and Twitter) as a means of conveying City of Worcester information
to its citizens. The intended purpose of establishing a social media presence is to
disseminate City information deemed useful to its citizens.

General Policy

  1. The establishment and use by a City department of City social media sites are
    subject to the approval of the City Manager or his designees. All City of
    Worcester social medial sites shall be administered by the City’s Technical
    Services Department.
  2. Access to social media sites is restricted to City employees performing official
    City business.
  3. Department heads are responsible for determining who is authorized to use
    social media on behalf of the department.
  4. The establishment of social media sites is limited to only those departments
    who have information deemed necessary to disseminate to the public.
  5. City social media sites should make clear that they are maintained by the City
    of Worcester and that they follow the City’s Social Media Policy.
  6. All City of Worcester social media sites should link back to the official City
    of Worcester website
  7. The City’s Technical Services Department will monitor content on City social
    media sites to ensure adherence to both the City’s Social Media Policy and the
    goals of the City.
  8. The City reserves the right to restrict or remove any content that is deemed in
    violation of this Social Media Policy.
  9. All City social media sites shall adhere to applicable federal, state and local
    laws, regulations and policies.
  10. City of Worcester social media sites are subject to the Massachusetts Public
    Records Law. Any content maintained in a social media format that is relative
    to City business, including a list of subscribers, posted communications, and
    communications submitted for posting, may be a public record subject to
    public disclosure.
  11. Comments and postings not relative to official City business may be removed
    at the discretion of the City of Worcester.
  12. Employees representing the City of Worcester via the City’s social media sites
    must conduct themselves at all times as a representative of the City and in
    accordance with all City policies.

Comments and Postings Policy

  1. Comments containing, but not limited to, any of the following inappropriate
    forms of content shall not be permitted on the City of Worcester social media sites
    and are subject to removal.
    1. Comments not related to the original topic
    2. Profane, obscene, violent or pornographic content and/or language
    3. Content that promotes discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color,
      religion, age, gender or national origin
    4. Defamatory or personal attacks
    5. Threats
    6. Comments relative to political campaigns
    7. Solicitation
    8. Violations of any federal, state or local law
    9. Illegal activity
  2. The City of Worcester reserves the right to deny access to the City of Worcester
    social media sites for any individual who violates the City’s Social Media Policy.
  3. Departments shall monitor their social media sites for comments requesting
    responses from the City and for comments in violation of this policy.

4 thoughts on “Worcester’s New Social Media Policy

  1. Nicole points out the real absence of data retention/public records info which was the basis for the February 16th query we made to the City. Rather than engaging us, “What is the Sunshine Week group thinking?”, and before the City Council Committee can meet to discuss a policy, the City Hall reactionary machine decided it needed to quickly manufacture a policy. At minimum, “Here’s a draft policy we started putting together.” seems like a better process.

    I am glad we’ve taken a step, but it reminds me of those large signs at the entrances to the common. They start with an obligatory all CAPS, “WELCOME” but only because they’re welcome signs. They then quickly proceed with a long list of “Don’t do this” and “Don’t do that…”, inform you you’re under video surveillance and wrap up with, “A complete set of rules & regulations can be obtained at the City Hall Welcome Center” http://twitpic.com/8y0cy0 [ Don’t get me going on Worcester’s inability to typeset signs]

    This on-line commons policy mimics those signs. Prevention and punishment trump playing on the grass and talking on the park benches. The Boston policy is strongly invitational and ours clearly isn’t.

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