- Meeting of Standards and General Purposes Committee, Thursday, 10th December, 2020 2.00 pm (Item 4.)
To consider the attached report.
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Social Media was a key communication tool used by the Council and many Councillors. It was also used by service users and key stakeholders. It had a significant role in the reputational management of the Council and the personal reputation of Members. As such, the Council had a developed and adopted a suite of documents giving guidance to staff and Councillors.
The Committee received a report which explained that during the transition period to the new Buckinghamshire Council a set of Social Media standards had been developed and approved alongside a suite of documents setting out the Council’s approach to the use of social media, which included advice and guidance for Councillors. Copies of those Standards and the Social Media Policy, Strategy and Guide were attached as appendices to the Committee report.
The Council’s general approach to social media and managing its corporate accounts was set out on the Council’s public website. This included a set of standards for conduct on social media use indicating that abuse and threatening posts would not be tolerated, together with advertising, ‘trolling’ and ‘spam’. Residents were advised to not use social media for complaints and were directed to the complaints process.
As well as a set of Standards, the Guidance to Councillors is set out in the following the documents:
· Social Media Strategy – which outlined in broad terms the aims and objectives of social media use by the Council and set this in the wider context of the Council’s Communications and Engagement Strategy. The Strategy encouraged Councillors to use social media and also advised them to read the Strategy alongside the Code of Conduct.
· Social Media Policy – which applied to Staff and Councillors and set out a significant amount of detail on social media use including detailed guidance on the use of the corporate social media accounts. This covered topics such as advice on posting; offensive content; misuse and offences; security and privacy; videos and images. Councillors were again reminded of the Code of Conduct and that Councillors who posted content were likely to be seen as acting in their role as Councillors rather than in a private capacity. The Policy emphasised that care needed to be taken when posting content to ensure that confidential information was not disclosed. Tips on content were also given together with a link to the Local Government Association’s comprehensive set of policies on how to make the best use of social media, including ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ referred to in the appendices.
· Social Media Guide – was a practical introduction to social media with numerous tips and advice on how to use the different social media network.
· Training on Social Media – was provided to Members as part of Induction and general development. To date, 66 Councillors have undertaken this training.
Members were informed that inappropriately using or misusing social media could have legal ramifications. Councillors could also face allegations that they had breached the Code of Conduct and be subject to sanctions as a consequence. Clear guidance was important in ensuring that Councillors could use social media safely and effectively.
Councillors considered the social media documentation and commented on the risks in forwarding, re-tweeting or commenting on social media posts. Planning Committee Members who commented on an application could lead to them being accused of pre-determination.
Members requested that an A4 card of Social Media Do’s and Don’ts be put together for Buckinghamshire Councillors.
That the Council’s Social Media guidance and documentation be noted.
- Social Media guidance for Cllrs (Standards GP 10 12 2020), item 4. PDF 153 KB
- Social Media Policy, item 4. PDF 324 KB
- Social Media Strategy, item 4. PDF 322 KB
- Social Media Guide, item 4. PDF 1 MB
- Social media use (The Source), item 4. PDF 65 KB
- LGA dos and donts of SM use, item 4. PDF 46 KB