Effective 1 August 2023
Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogging represent a growing form of communication, allowing engagement with the community and the wider public more easily than ever before. However, it is also an area in which rules and boundaries are constantly being tested. This policy acts to increase our engagement while protecting our public reputation.
The Community Council seeks to encourage information and link-sharing amongst its membership, the community, and volunteers, and seeks to utilise the expertise of its members and volunteers in generating appropriate social media content.
At the same time, social media posts should be in keeping with the image that the Community Council wishes to present to the public, and posts made through its social media channels should not damage its reputation. For example, there should be no posts which could bring the Community Council’s apolitical status into question.
The Community Council may choose to engage widely with communities using social media such as:
Due to the fast-moving nature of social media and the constant development of new social media programs, it is important that this policy and its procedures be reviewed at regular intervals.
The Community Council may seek to grow its social media base and use this to engage with existing and potential members, the wider community, potential funding sources and other stakeholders. At the same time, a balance must be struck which avoids placing the Community Council’s reputation at risk.
In respect of the above, the Community Council would draw the attention of all parties to this section, and clauses 12 through 16 (inclusively) of the Scheme of Establishment for Community Councils.
The Community Council’s social media use shall be consistent with the following core values:
- Integrity: The Community Council will not knowingly post incorrect, defamatory or misleading information about its own work, the work of other organisations, or individuals. In addition, it will post in accordance with relevant organisations’ Copyright and Privacy policies. In addition, the Community Council will not knowingly post (or enable postings from third parties), which do not comply with its commitment to Equal Opportunities and apolitical activities.
- Professionalism: The Community Council’s social media represents the collective Community Council membership and should seek to maintain a professional and uniform tone at all times. Community Council members may, from time to time and as appropriate (e.g. as previously agreed and minuted by the collective membership of the Community Council), post on behalf of the Community Council using its online profiles.
- Information Sharing: The Community Council encourages the sharing and reposting of online information that is relevant, appropriate to its aims, and of interest to its members.
The Community Council should consider nominating a Communications Officer to co-ordinate and manage social media content on behalf of the Community Council. The Communications Officer will oversee expansion of social media although all passwords and access should be shared amongst at least 3 members of the Community Council.
The members (amongst whom passwords and access have been shared) may, from time to time and where appropriate, post on behalf of the Community Council using its online social media profiles. This should only be done with the express knowledge and authorisation of the Communications Officer and/or the collective membership of the Community Council.
The Communications Officer has ultimate responsibility for:
- Ensuring that all posts are in keeping with the Community Council’s core Social Media Policy;
- Ensuring appropriate and timely action is taken to correct or remove inappropriate posts (including political, defamatory and/or illegal content) and in minimising the risk of a repeat incident;
- Ensuring that appropriate and timely action is taken in repairing relations with any persons or organisations offended by an inappropriate post;
- Moderating and monitoring public response to social media, such as blog comments and Facebook replies, to ensure that trolling and spamming does not occur, to remove offensive or inappropriate replies, or caution offensive posters, and to reply to any further requests for information generated by the post topic.
It is important to maintain the balance between encouraging discussion and information sharing, and maintaining a professional and appropriate online presence.
Social media is by nature a 24/7 operation; as such, such responsibilities as outlined above may be delegated by the Communications Officer to other appropriate members of the Community Council.
Before social media posts are made, Community Council members should ask themselves the following questions:
- Is the information I am posting, or reposting, likely to be of interest to the members and community?
- Is the information in keeping with the objectives (see clause 3 of the Constitution) of the Community Council?
- Could the post be construed as an attack on another individual, organisation or project?
- Would the Community Council’s funders be happy to read the post?
- If there is a link attached to the post, does the link work, and have I read the information it links to and judged it to be an appropriate source?
- If reposting information, is the original poster an individual or organisation that the Community Council would be happy to associate itself with?
- Are the tone and the content of the post in keeping with other posts made by the Community Council? Does it maintain the organisation’s overall tone?
If there is any uncertainty about whether a post is suitable, it should note be posted (or enabled to be posted) until the item has been reviewed by the Communications Officer. A few moments spent checking can ensure that the Community Council’s integrity is not compromised.
In the event of a damaging or misleading post being made, the Communications Officer should be notified as soon as possible, and the following actions should occur:
- The offending post should be removed
- Where necessary, an apology should be issued, either publicly or to the individual or organisation involved;
- The origin of the offending post should be explored and steps taken to prevent a similar incident occurring in the future e.g. blocking posts which do not comply with the Scheme and/or this policy on acceptable use of social media, as documented in this policy.
Moderating social media
Maintaining the reputation and integrity of the Community Council is first and foremost, and this involves maintaining a safe and friendly environment for its members and visitors. From time to time social media forums may be hijacked by trolls or spammers, or attract people who attack other posters or the Community Council aggressively. In order to maintain a pleasant environment for everybody, these posts need to be moderated.
Freedom of speech is to be encouraged, but if posts contain one or more of the following, action will be taken:
- Excessive or inappropriate use of swearing;
- Defamatory or aggressive attacks on the Community Council, other individuals, organisations, projects or public figures;
- Breach of copyrighted material not within reasonable use, in the public domain, or available under Creative Commons license;
- Breach of data protection or privacy laws;
- Repetitive advertisements;
- Topics which fall outside the realms of interest to members and the community, and which do not appear to be within the context of a legitimate discussion or enquiry.
If a poster continues to post inappropriate content, or if the post can be considered spam:
- The post will be removed soon as possible;
- If possible/appropriate, the poster will be contacted privately to explain why the post was removed and highlighting the Community Council’s appropriate use of social media policy;
- Ban or block the poster to prevent them from posting again.
Banning and blocking should be used as a last resort only, and only when it is clear that the poster intends to continue to contribute inappropriate content. However, if that is the case, action must be taken swiftly to maintain the welfare of other social media users.
The decision to block, ban and remove posts ultimately lies with the Community Council, but the Communications Officer can take a preliminary view and present this to the Community Council members for further consideration.
Last updated – July 2023