What do we know?
This problem has been dealt with by many organizations, at the local, state and federal level. This has given us quite a bit of background information and best practice examples. Lea and I have compiled some of the most relevant sources, (with help from a visit to sm4em.org and my own bibliography) and I’ve listed them in this post. Although the SMEM session probably will not cover every aspect detailed here, these sources are a great reference point for anyone looking to write a social media policy for their agency.
In particular, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) have a tab on their website detailing social media policy considerations. Some of these issues deal specifically with law enforcement, but most relate, at least tangentially, to all emergency response personnel. The five key components they urge agencies to address:
- Scope. Determine what areas the policy needs to cover. Once the scope is determined, consider the areas below that apply to the areas you have chosen to cover in your policy.
- Official Use. Social media tools can be used for many purposes and are valuable for many day-to-day operational activities in law enforcement agencies. It is integral that authorization for and administration of any department sanctioned sites are clearly articulated.
- Personal Use. Content posted by law enforcement, even off-duty and under strict privacy settings, has the potential to be disseminated broadly and fall into the hands of defense attorneys, criminals, and members of the community. Any improper postings can ultimately affect an individual’s credibility, employment status, and their agency as a whole.
- Legal Issues. Issues such as First Amendment rights, records retention and public records laws, and other federal and state statutes must be considered while crafting a policy. Many legal issues surrounding social media have not yet been settled within the court system, so having clear guidelines in place becomes even more imperative.
- Related Policies. Many issues surrounding social media use may be resolved by citing other policies that are already in place within your agency, including Internet Use, Electronic Messaging, Code of Conduct, and Media Relations. The IACP’s National Law Enforcement Policy Center offers model policies on these topics.
Another potential concern not addressed by the IACP is “Terms of Service Agreements” with social media providers. The federal government (GSA in particular) has ironed out some of these issues and has a resource tab on the howto.gov website listing all of the relevant information. However, local and state governments are not included, per se, in those agreements with providers. For state and local governments NASCIO and Attorneys General have Negotiated Model Facebook Agreement. This agreement addressed many concerns state and local governments had with Facebook’s terms of service, which in effect, could have eventually hindered their ability to use the platform:
“Facebook has specifically agreed to modify the provisions of its terms and conditions to:
- Strike the indemnity clause except to the extent indemnity is allowed by a state’s constitution or law;
- Strike language requiring that legal disputes be venued in California courts and adjudicated under California law;
- Require that a public agency include language directing consumers to its official Web site prominently on any Facebook page; and,
- Encourage amicable resolution between public entities and Facebook over any disputes.
- All of these modifications will immediately apply to state and local government agencies already on Facebook. “
- IBM, 2011. Report: How Federal Agencies Can Effectively Manage Records Created Using New Social Media Tools
- OMB Memorandum 10-23, Guidance for Agency Use of Third-Party Websites and Applications
- OMB guidance on Paperwork Reduction Act and use of Social Media
- Guidelines for Secure Use of Social Media by Federal Departments and Agencies—CIO.gov
- Records Management and Recent Web Technologies—National Archives
- Are these Records?–National Archives Blog.
How to Design a Policy:
- Best Practices for Developing a Social Media Policy. Society for New Communications Research. Jan 2011.
- Designing Social Media Policy for Government: Eight Essential Elements.Center for Technology in Government, 2010.
- Exploratory Social Media Project Phase I: Identifying benefits and concerns surrounding use of social media in government. Center for Technology in Government, 2010.
- O’Leary, John. 2010. Social Media in the Public Sector, Governing.
- Social Media and the Federal Government: Perceived and Real Barriers and Potential Solutions. (Dec.2008).
- USA.gov & GobiernoUSA.gov Social Media Guidelines—Making Content Sociable
Best Practices & Examples:
- U.S. Air Force: “New Media Manual”. January, 2011. Slideshare. Accessed Jan 2011.
- U.S. Army “Social Media Handbook”. January, 2011. Accessed Jan 2011.
- Web 2 0 Governance Policies Examples—compiled by the Federal Web Managers Council’s Social Media Sub-Council.
- Social Media Policies database—policy examples, sorted by industry.
Other Related Articles and blog posts:
- Social Media and Law Enforcement: Who Gets What Data and When? (eff.org)
- Obama Transparency Drive Inhibited By Familiar Barriers (huffingtonpost.com)
I hope to see in you in D.C.!