Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Social Media tools can pose problems for lawmakers

Like any tool, the advantages and disadvantages lie in how it's used. One of the stories in the current issue of State Legislatures is about social media and becoming aware of some of the problems and pitfalls you may encounter - as lawmakers and staff.

Read the full story here.

For example, Shirley, a lawmaker, used Facebook as a campaign tool. When the election was over, she continued to use her Facebook page to communicate with constituents. Some of the questions to ask are:

*Can a government official use Facebook as a way to discuss public issues?
*If so, can an official limit access to such a Facebook page in any way?
*Do all members of the public have a right to see what is on a publicly maintained Facebook page? What about a completely personal one?
*Can an office holder "unfriend" certain individuals or remove selected posts on a publicly maintained Facebook page?
*If a Facebook page is completely personal, must the official confine all comments to personal rather than public matters?

The article gives another example on using blogs, as well as General Principles and ethical guidelines for legislative staff. Most legislative offices use social media in one form or another as a communications tool. It's a good reminder on always using social media with awareness and common sense.

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