A flurry of activity around twitter in the past two days as tweeting by a Chief Executive and councillors hits the media headlines. Social media has transformed the way we work, shop, travel and communicate. Social media is transforming the relationship between the government and the citizen because the communication goes both ways, highlight the positives and negatives of everyday life and expose us all to new opportunities and new risks. Social media isn’t going away and local authorities can help their staff by discussing and agreeing guidelines for acceptable use.
Social Networking Ban For Chorley Councillors What the article actually states is that Chorley councillors have been banned from using their mobile phones during council meetings so that they are focused on the discussions which makes perfect sense to me.
Possibly more controversial is the rift over allotments plans following a council chief executive’s use of Twitter.
Chancellor George Osborne has announced that funding for councils would be slashed by more than seven per cent a year until 2015. We are aware that Councils are going to have to make hard choices about their spending priorities. I believe that public debate about how the decisions are being made is very healthy in a democracy.
In a challenging post Social Networking: The Great Disruptor? Clay Shirky observed that “Markets don’t supply as much accountability as democracy demands“.
The reality is that conversations are taking place through social networking all the time and public sector bodies have a choice about whether they are part of the debates or not.
Public sector bloggers may wish to consider the guidance for journalists and staff on engaging in social media published recently by the Guardian. The Guardian’s guidelines listed below cover blogging, tweeting and the use of social media to allow it to “to maintain editorial standards and help create effective communities on the web”.
1. Participate in conversations about our content, and take responsibility for the conversations you start.
2. Focus on the constructive by recognising and rewarding intelligent contributions.
3. Don’t reward disruptive behaviour with attention, but report it when you find it.
4. Link to sources for facts or statements you reference, and encourage others to do likewise.
5. Declare personal interest when applicable. Be transparent about your affiliations, perspectives or previous coverage of a particular topic or individual.
6. Be careful about blurring fact and opinion and consider carefully how your words could be (mis)interpreted or (mis)represented.
7. Encourage readers to contribute perspective, additional knowledge and expertise. Acknowledge their additions.
8. Exemplify our community standards in your contributions above and below the line.
An interesting commentary about the challenges of conversations being held in public through social media has been provided by Gordon MacMillan social media editor at Haymarket.
And finally help is at hand from the Social Media and Online Collaboration Community of Practice for Public Service. You can access a whole range of social media policies which have been developed by public sector bodies in the UK and abroad. Well done to Ingrid Koehler Improvement Strategist at Local Government Improvement and Development. You do need to join the group to access the policies. http://www.communities.idea.gov.uk/welcome.do