Adopted by Council: 26th January 2019
Planned Review Date: January 2022
Social media is the term used for online tools, websites and interactive media that enable users to interact with each other by sharing information, opinions, knowledge and interests.
Social media increases our access to audiences and improves the accessibility of our communication. It enables us to be more active in our relationships with citizens, partners and stakeholders, and encourages people to be involved in local decision making, enabling better engagement and feedback, ultimately helping to improve the services we provide.
For the purposes of this Protocol, the term “social media” covers sites and applications including but not restricted to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, blogs, discussion forums, wikis and any sites which may emerge after the creation of this Protocol where Crewe Town Council could be represented via online participation.
The Council acknowledges social media as a useful tool however, clear guidelines are needed for the use of social media sites to ensure they are used effectively as part of a wider communications mix and that their use does not expose the Council to security risks, reputational damage or breach the Data Protection Act.
This Protocol provides a structured approach to using social media and will ensure that it is effective, lawful and does not compromise Council information or computer systems/networks.
Users must ensure that they use social media sensibly and responsibly, in line with corporate policy. They must ensure that their use will not adversely affect the Council or its business, nor be damaging to the Council’s reputation and credibility or otherwise violate any Council policies.
This Protocol applies to Councillors and Co-opted Members.
It gives guidelines on how to use social media, sets out how we can effectively manage social media usage and indicates how any risks or pitfalls can be minimised or mitigated.
The following risks have been identified with social media use (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Virus or other malware (malicious software) infection from infected sites
- Disclosure of confidential information
- Damage to the Council’s reputation
- Social engineering attacks
- Bullying or “trolling”
- Civil or criminal action relating to breaches of legislation
- Breach of safeguarding through the use of images or personal details leading to the exploitation of vulnerable individuals
- Breach of the code of conduct for members through inappropriate use
This Protocol aims to ensure appropriate use of social media, that Council information remains secure and is not compromised through use of social media, and that the Council’s reputation is not damaged or adversely affected.
Responsibilities of Councillors and Co-opted Members
- Social media must not be used in a way that might lead to a complaint that you have breached the Council’s Code of Conduct for Councillors
- Social media must not be used to publish any content which may result in actions for defamation, discrimination, breaches of copyright, data protection or other claims for damages. This includes but is not limited to material of an illegal, sexual or offensive nature that may bring the Council into disrepute
- It is recommended that you have separate social media profiles for your role as a CTC Councillor and for your private life. In any biography where the Councillor is identified as a Councillor, the account should state that the views are those of the Councillor in question and may not represent the views of the Council
- Individual Councillors can make their own statements relating to local issues and this policy is not designed to prevent any Member expressing a personal opinion through the Media. Members must make it clear however, that any view expressed which differs from Council Policy are their own personal views and should be recorded as such
- You are personally responsible for the content you publish on any form of social media. Publishing or allowing to be published (in the form of a comment) an untrue statement about a person which is damaging to their reputation may incur a libel action for which you will be personally liable; no indemnity from the Council will be available
- Do not use the Council’s logo, or any other Council related material on a personal account or website
- Social media sites are in the public domain and it is important to ensure that you are confident of the nature of the information you publish. Once published, content is almost impossible to control and may be manipulated without your consent, used in different contexts, or further distributed
- Make use of stringent privacy settings if you don’t want your social media to be accessed by the press or public. Read the terms of service of any social media site accessed and make sure you understand their confidentiality/privacy settings