Social media guide to be discussed by Powys councillors 

THE DOS and don’ts of what to post on social media will be put under the microscope by Powys County Councillors next week.

An updated social media guide for councillors will be brought to a meeting of the council’s Democratic Services committee on Monday, January 8.

The last version of the policy was agreed by the council in June 2018.

Interim head of transformation and democratic services, Catherine James said: “The revised guide contains a link to the Welsh Local Government Association [WLGA] social media guidance for councillors.

“This provides a series of guides explaining how to use various social media platforms, provides advice on creating good content, give tips on accessibility and best practice, and shows the best ways to engage in healthy debate and tackle online abuse.”

Ms James added that the draft was emailed to councillors just before Christmas asking for comments, and that two councillors had responded.

The 15 page document explains to councillors what social media is and how they can use it in their role.

The guide explains that the benefits include:

“Engaging with more residents, users of council services, and partner organisations as well promoting your work and enhancing your reputation with citizens and communities.”

The guide explains that social media can increase public awareness of council services, events, campaigns, and news as well as find out what residents think and expect of the council.

It is also supposed to give councillors the “ability” to be more “open, transparent and accessible.”

The guide also advised councillors to separate their public and private lives.

The guide said:  “The public will think of you as a councillor 24/7.

“However, you do have a right to a private life.

“To support this distinction, it is best practice to set up a separate social media account for use as a councillor and keeping your personal and party political social media accounts separate.”

The guide also reminds councillors of some of the legal pitfalls and that libel, defamation, copyright, and data protection laws also apply on social media,

Councillors are advised to be “professional and respectful” in any communication and are also reminded not to: “post comments that you would not be prepared to make in writing or face to face.”

The documents also includes a number of interesting legal cases that councillors and other politicians from all over the UK have been embroiled in due to their social media postings.

Comments from the committee on the draft social media guide as well as a recommendation to approve or not, will go to a future full council meeting.

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