Winsham Parish Council
Social Media Policy
Adopted on 3rd
1. Policy statement
1.1. This policy is intended to help
councillors and council staff make appropriate decisions about the use of
social media such as emails, blogs, wikis, social networking websites,
podcasts, forums, message boards, or comments on web-articles, such as Twitter,
Facebook, LinkedIn and other relevant social media websites.
The council will encourage the
use of social media for the purposes of:
providing and exchanging information about services;
supporting local democracy;
gathering citizen insights and managing citizen relationships;
promoting cultural events or tourism for the area;
supporting community cohesion, neighbourliness and resilience; and
creating internal communications and learning and development.
1.2. This policy outlines the standards the
council requires councillors and staff to observe when using social media, the
circumstances in which the council will
monitor the use of social media and the
action to be taken in respect of breaches of this policy.
1.3. This policy supplements, and should be
read in conjunction with all other policies and procedures adopted by the
council, such as the Equal Opportunities Policy, Bullying and Harassment
Policy, Data Protection Policy, Disciplinary Procedure, Members Code of Conduct
and such like.
1.4. This policy does not form part of any
contract of employment and it may be amended at any time.
is covered by this policy
2.1. This policy covers all individuals
working at all levels with the council, including all elected and co-opted
councillors, the clerk to the council and all other employees and volunteers
(collectively referred to as staff in this policy).
3. The scope of this policy
3.1. The council has a corporate presence on
the web and by use of email, which it uses to communicate with people who live
in, work in and visit the parish. The
council will always try to use the most effective channel for its communications.
We may ask those who contact us for their preferred channel of communication
when we deal with them.
Over time the Parish Council may
add to the channels of communication that it uses as it seeks to improve and
expand the services it delivers. When these changes occur this Social Media
Policy will be updated to reflect the new arrangements.
3.2 All members and staff are expected to
comply with this policy at all times to protect the reputation, privacy,
confidentiality, and interests of the council, its services, employees,
partners and community.
3.2. Serious breaches of this policy by
employees may be dealt with under the Employee Disciplinary Procedure. The council
may take disciplinary action in respect of unlawful, libellous, harassing, defamatory,
abusive, threatening, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented or racially
offensive comments by an employee.
Breach of the policy by
volunteers will result in the council no longer using their services and, if
necessary, appropriate action will be taken.
Behaviour required by the
Members’ Code of Conduct shall apply to online activity in the same way it does
to other written or verbal communication. Members will bear in mind that inappropriate conduct can still attract
adverse publicity, even where the code does not apply. Remarks are easily
withdrawn, apologised for and forgotten when made in person, but posting them
on the internet means that they have been published in a way that cannot be
contained. Online content should be objective, balanced, informative and
accurate. Members must be aware that their profile as a councillor means the
more likely it is they will be seen as acting in an official capacity when blogging
It must be remembered that
communications on the internet are permanent and public. When communicating in a ‘private’ group it
should be ensured that the council would be content with the statement should
it be made public.
4. Rules for using social media.
4.1 Staff and councillors must not allow
their interaction on any websites or blogs to damage their working
relationships with others. They must not make any derogatory, discriminatory,
defamatory or offensive comments about other staff, councillors, the council or
about the people, businesses and agencies the council works with and serves.
4.2 Posts must not to contain anyone’s
personal information, other than necessary basic contact details.
4.2 If staff or councillors blog or tweet
personally, and not in their role as a councillor, they must not act, claim to
act, or give the impression that they are acting as a representative of the
council. They should not include web links to official council websites as this
may give or reinforce the impression that they are representing the council.
4.3 All staff and councillors must ensure they
use council facilities appropriately. If using a council-provided website, blog
site or social networking area, any posts made will be viewed as made in an official
capacity. Do not use council facilities for personal or political blogs.
4.4 The Council will appoint a nominated person(s)
as moderator(s). They will be responsible for posting and monitoring of the
content on council pages, ensuring it complies with the Social Media Policy.
The moderator(s) will have authority to immediately, without notice or comment,
remove any posts from the council’s social media pages if they are deemed to be
inflammatory or of a defamatory or libellous nature. Such post will also be reported to the Hosts
(i.e. Facebook) and also the clerk for council records.
4.3 The Council will appoint a nominated
“Webmaster” to maintain and update the Parish Council Website. The website may
be used to:
Post notices and minutes of meetings
Advertise events and activities
Post good news stories
Link to appropriate websites or press page if
those sites meet the council’s expectations of conduct
Retweet or ‘share’ information from partners i.
e. Police, Library, district council, etc.
Announce new information appropriate to the
Post or Share information promoting bodies for
community benefit such as schools, Scouts, sports clubs and community groups
Post other items as the council see fit.
Facebook and/or Twitter, etc, may be used to
support the website and its information as above.
4.4 Staff and individual parish
councillors are responsible for what they post.
They are personally
responsible for any
online activity conducted
e-mail address, which is
used for council business. Both staff and councillors are
strongly advised to
have separate council
and personal email
4.5 All social media sites
in use should
be checked on
a regular basis to ensure the security settings are in
participating in online communication staff and councillors must;
Be responsible and respectful; be direct,
informative, brief and transparent.
Always disclose their identity and affiliation
to the council.
Never make false or misleading statements.
Not present themselves in a way that might cause
embarrassment. They must protect the good reputation of the council.
mindful of the
information posted on sites
and make sure
personal opinions are
not published as
being that of the council.
Keep the tone of comments respectful and
informative, never condescending or “loud.” Use sentence case format, not
capital letters, do not write in red to emphasise points.
Refrain from posting controversial or
potentially inflammatory remarks. Language that
may be deemed as
offensive relating in
particular to race,
sexuality, disability, gender,
age or religion or belief should not be published on any social media site.
Avoid personal attacks, online fights and hostile
Do not post comments that you would not be
prepared to make in writing or face to face.
Never name an individual third party unless you
have written permission to do so.
Seek permission to publish original photographs
or videos from the persons
or organisations in
the video or
photograph before they are uploaded.
You must check that there is parental permission before photos of children are
Respect the privacy of other councillors, staff
Never post any
information or conduct
any online activity
that may violate
laws or regulations, such as libel
Spell and grammar check everything.
4.7 Residents and councillors should be
aware that not all communication through social media requires a response,
although an acknowledgement should be made
4.8 If a matter raised in any form of
social media needs further consideration by the council it may be raised at
either the open forum or as a full agenda item for consideration by a quorum of
Councillors. Again the ‘poster’ shall be informed via the page or direct
message that this is the case and invited to contact the clerk direct. Any
response agreed by the council will be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
4.9 Reports of any concerns
regarding content placed
on social media sites
should be reported to the
Clerk for referral to the moderator(s) and/or council as required.
Policy will be reviewed annually.