Social Media Policy

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September 21, 2016

I. PURPOSE:

This Social Media Policy establishes guidelines for the establishment and use by the City of Cathedral City (“City”) of social media sites (including but not limited to Facebook, Nextdoor.com and Twitter) as a means of conveying City information to its citizens.

The intended purpose behind establishing City Social Media Sites is to disseminate information from the City about the City’s mission, meetings, activities and current issues to its citizens.

The City has an overriding interest and expectation in deciding what is “spoken” on behalf of the City on City social media sites.

II. DEFINITIONS:

For purposes of this Social Media Policy, the following definitions shall apply:

A. “Social Media” is understood to be content created by individuals, using accessible, expandable, and upgradable publishing technologies, through and on the internet. Examples of social media include Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Nextdoor and Instagram.

B. “City Social Media Site(s)” means social media sites established and maintained by the City, over which the City has control over Comments (as defined hereinafter), except for advertisements or hyperlinks by the Social Media site’s owners, vendors or partners.

C. “Comment” or “Comments” mean and include any information, articles, words, pictures, videos or any other form of communicative content posted on a City Social Media Site.

D. “Policy” means this City Social Media Policy.

E. “Account Administrator” means the City’s Communications Officer and his/her duly authorized designee(s).

III. GENERAL POLICY:

A. The establishment of and use by any City employees of City Social Media Sites are subject to the advance written approval of the City Manager or his/her designees. All City Social Media Sites shall be established, maintained and administered by the Account Administrator with technical assistance to be provided as needed by City Information Technology (“IT”) staff.

B. City Social Media Site access shall be limited only to those City employees having a clear, City-related business purpose, as set forth in Section I of this Policy.

C. Following City Manager direction, the Account Administrator will determine and designate in writing the appropriate level of employee access to City Social Media Sites, which includes identifying what Social Media sources, or type of source, each department or individual employee is approved to use, as well as defining their respective capabilities, i.e., publish, edit, comment or view only. Employees having been designated such access shall be considered “Authorized Users”. At present, only the Account Administrator shall have publishing, editing or comment privileges.

D. In order to ensure appropriate controls and to evaluate the efficacy of the City’s use of Social Media, only the Account Administrator shall have the ability to establish City Social Media Sites, post/edit content thereon and respond to Comments. Expanded use (in accordance with the terms and provisions of this Policy) may be authorized at a future date by appropriate action of the City Manager or City Council.

E. City Social Media Sites should make clear that they are maintained by the City and that they follow the City’s Social Media Policy. This Policy shall be displayed to users of and visitors to City Social Media Sites and/or be made available by hyperlink.

F. Wherever possible, all City Social Media Sites should link back to the official City website(s) (Cathedralcity.gov and/or DiscoverCathedralCity.com) for forms, documents, online services and other information necessary to conduct business with the City. The City’s website at http://www.cathedralcity.gov and www.DiscoverCathedralCity.com  will remain the City’s primary and predominant internet presence.

G. The Account Administrator will monitor content on City Social Media Sites to ensure adherence to both this Policy and the interests and goals of the City.

H. City Social Media Sites shall be managed consistent with California’s Ralph M. Brown Act. Members of the City Council, Commissions and/or Boards shall not respond to, “like”, “share”, “retweet” or otherwise participate in any published postings, or use City Social Media Sites, or any form of electronic communication to respond to, blog or engage in serial meetings, or otherwise discuss, deliberate, or express opinions on any issue within the subject matter jurisdiction of the body.

I. All use of City Social Media Sites by City employees (including use of non-City Social Media sites for communications related to City business) should be consistent with applicable state, federal, and local laws, regulations, and policies including all City information technology security policies. Comments and postings must contain information that is freely available to the public and not be confidential as defined by any City policy or state or federal law. All City Social Media Sites shall adhere to applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations and policies.

J. City Social Media Sites are subject to the California Public Records Act. Any content maintained in a social media format that is related to City business, including a list of subscribers, posted communication, and communication submitted for posting, may be a public record subject to public disclosure. There shall be no expectation of privacy in any content or Comments on City Social Media Sites.
K. Employees representing the City government via City Social Media Sites must conduct themselves at all times as representatives of the City and in accordance with all City policies, rules and memoranda of understanding. Failure to do so may result in discipline.

L. All City-related communication made through Social Media sites will remain professional in nature and be conducted in accordance with the City’s communications policy, practices, and expectations.

M. All City Social Media Sites shall utilize authorized City contact information for account set-up, monitoring and access. The use of personal email accounts or phone numbers by City employees is not allowed for the purpose of setting-up, monitoring, or accessing a City Social Media Site.

N. Authorized Users of City Social Media Sites shall review, be familiar with, and comply with the site’s use policies and terms and conditions

O. Authorized Users shall be provided a copy of this Social Media Policy and are required to acknowledge their understanding and acceptance by signing and dating the last page of this Policy and returning the original to the Human Resources Manager.

P. This City Social Media Policy may be revised at any time.

IV. COMMENT GUIDELINES:

A. As a public entity, the City must abide by certain standards to serve all its constituents in a civil and unbiased manner. Therefore, users of and visitors to City Social Media Sites shall be notified that the intended purpose of the sites are to disseminate information from the City about the City’s mission, meetings, activities and current issues to its citizens, and that Comments containing any of the following inappropriate forms of content shall not be permitted on any City Social Media Sites and are subject to removal and/or restriction by the Account Administrator:

1. Content and/or language a reasonable person would find offensive, including but not limited to profane, obscene, or pornographic content and/or language;
2. Content that promotes, fosters or perpetuates discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, religion, gender, gender expression, gender identity, disability, medical condition, genetic information, sexual orientation, marital status or any other protected class;
3. Defamatory or libelous content;
4. Threats to any person or organization;
5. Solicitation of commerce, including but not limited to advertising of any business or product/service for sale;
6. Conduct in violation of any federal, state or local law;
7. Encouragement of illegal activity;
8. Information that may tend to compromise the safety or security of the public or public systems; or
9. Content that violates a legal ownership interest, such as a copyright, of any party.

B. Users of and visitors to City Social Media Sites shall also be notified that:

 1. Comments on topics or issues not within the jurisdictional purview of the City are also subject to removal. However, provided they are on a subject matter or topic within such jurisdictional purview, Comments will be allowed to remain, regardless of whether they are favorable or unfavorable to the City.

2. The City reserves the right to restrict or remove any Comments deemed in violation of this Social Media Policy or any applicable law. Any Comments removed based on the above guidelines must be retained by the Account Administrator for a reasonable period of time, including the time, date and identity of the poster, in accordance with the City’s policies on the retention of such information.

3. A Comment posted by a member of the public on any City Social Media Site is the opinion of that member of the public only, and publication of a Comment does not imply endorsement of, or agreement by, the City, nor do such Comments necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the City.

4. The City reserves the right to deny access to City Social Media Sites for any individual who violates the City’s Social Media Policy, at any time and without prior notice.

5. That Comments posted to City Social Media Sites are subject to public disclosure and/or third party monitoring. Whenever possible, the following language shall be visible on walls or other City site pages: “The City of Cathedral City’s [page/site] is to provide general public information only. Should you need to request City services or if you require a response from the City, you must go to www.CathedralCity.gov, or call the City at (760) 770-0340. Representatives of Cathedral City government communicate via this Web site. Consequently any communication via this site (whether by a City employee or the general public) may be subject to California’s public records laws and subject to disclosure by the City if requested.”

6. All Comments posted to any City Facebook site are bound by Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, located at http://www.facebook.com/terms.php, and the City reserves the right to report any violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to Facebook with the intent of Facebook taking appropriate and reasonable responsive action.

7. The Comment guidelines specified in Paragraphs 1 and 2 above must be displayed to all users/visitors to City Social Media Sites and/or made available by hyperlink.

8. The Account Administrator shall monitor the City Social Media Sites for Comments requesting responses from the City and for Comments in violation of this Policy.

9. When an Authorized User responds to a Comment in his/her capacity as a City employee, the employee’s name and title should be made available, and the employee shall not share personal information about himself or herself, or other City employees.

10. All Comments made to City Social Media Sites are public, not private. Comments of the Account Administrator and any feedback by other employees or non-employees, including citizens, will be considered a public record and will be managed in accordance with the Public Records Act and the City’s records retention policies.

11. In the spirit of transparency, when the Account Administrator receives messages through a private message service offered by the provider of a City Social Media Site, he/she shall request the senders of such messages to contact him/her at a public e-mail address maintained by City. Any private messages received by the Account Administrator should be treated as constituent e-mails and therefore, as public records. The Account Administrator and any other Authorized Users should reply using their City e-mail account.

C. Posts to City Social Media Sites

1. It is up to the discretion of the City Manager and/or the Account Administrator to post news, events, and activities to the City’s social media sites. That same discretion will determine whether or not to make the post exclusive to only City social media sites and no others. Those sites include the City’s Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Nextdoor pages/accounts.

2. The City will only post to its social media sites events and activities that are produced by the City or sponsored by the City.

D. Postings to other Social Media Sites

1. It is up to the discretion of the City Manager and/or the Account Administrator to post or share a City post on other non-city social media sites. Consideration should be given regarding the content of the post and the audience of the non-city site.

2. If the Account Administrator posts to a neighborhood group in a particular social media site, then all known Cathedral City neighborhoods within that site shall be notified unless the post’s topic is specific to only a certain neighborhood(s).