There are many benefits to using social media and as an organisation, we are improving our own use of social networking and social media platforms. We recognise the rights of every individual to have social media accounts. However, there are certain things that you may want to consider when using social media as it may have an impact on your employment with the Council.
What is social media?
For the purposes of this guidance, social media currently includes but is not limited to:
- Social networking sites (for example Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Bebo, Yammer)
- Video and photo sharing websites (for example Flickr, YouTube)
- Blogs, including corporate and personal blogs
- Blogs hosted by media outlets (for example ‘comments’ or ‘your say’ features)
- Micro-blogging (for example Twitter)
- Wikis and online collaborations (for example Wikipedia)
- Forums, discussion boards and groups (for example Google groups, Whirlpool)
- Vod and podcasting
- Online multiplayer gaming platforms (for example World of Warcraft, Second Life)
- Instant messaging
- Geo-spatial tagging (for example Foursquare)
- Aberdeen City Council intranet (the Zone)
What is expected of me?
All employees of the Council are expected to demonstrate the behaviours expected of an Aberdeen City Council employee. This is both inside and outside of work and includes on social media.
Even if you are using social media in your own time this could still have repercussions in your work life. The following are examples of what would be considered as inappropriate and a breach of Council policy or the Code of Conduct:
- Sharing information which is confidential or which you have access to due to your job.
- Sharing personal details such as addresses, phone numbers or photos of service users or colleagues.
- Sharing any views which breach Council policies such as the Diversity & Equality policy or the Employee Code of Conduct.
- Making derogatory or offensive comments about your place of work, colleagues or service users, even if you do not mention them by name.
- Inciting, supporting or promoting an activity which is illegal.
What can you do?
Firstly, avoid putting personal information online e.g. where you work, your phone number, your home or work address etc.
Expressing Views about the Council
As a citizen you may wish to express your views about the Council and if you do so, you should feel secure that:
- You are not mixing your professional and personal life in ways likely to bring the Council into disrepute. With this in mind, consider stating that your comments about the Council are your personal opinion and not your professional opinion.
- You are comfortable with the information or photos which your friends are posting about you. If they post something which you are not comfortable with, ask them to remove it.
- You are not undermining your effectiveness at work by bringing your own professionalism or credibility into question.
- You are not implying Council endorsement of your personal views or implying that you are speaking on behalf of the Council.
- You are not criticising the Council as your employer.
When using social media, consider the following:
- Is your communication clear? When others read it, is your message and intent going to be understood, or could it be interpreted in another way?
- Even if you don’t find it offensive, could another individual reasonably take offence at the content of your message? If so, do you still want to post it?
- Does the content potentially have any relationship with your job at the Council, and/or are those that read it likely to think it does? Could it be interpreted as being endorsed by the Council?
- What method are you using to communicate? Is social media the most appropriate one? Social media is a public, not a personal, space. Once something enters the world of social media it is practically impossible to retain control of it. Links get forwarded, photos shared and comments posted on other sites.
- If you are angry or upset, be cautious about how you use social media.
- You are responsible for any information posted in your name. So you should lock the screen or log off when you leave the computer, to avoid someone else being able to post information in your name.
- You are responsible for the information that you choose to forward on (e.g. emails), re-post or comment on. Even if you didn’t write the original information you will be linked to it.
- Social media should not be used as an opportunity to criticise the policies and decisions which affect you at work. If you have concerns about these, you should speak to your Line Manager or Trade Union representative if you have one.
- You have a responsibility to ensure that the language you use online is not offensive or discriminatory in any way.
You will come into contact with many people in your work life, and sometimes you will form friendships with them. Prior to requesting or accepting a friend request online you should feel secure that:
- The friendship could not be viewed as inappropriate, for example an adult requesting or accepting a friend request from a child they have met through their work or a support worker befriending a service user.
- This is regardless of the actual intent of the relationship.
- There are no potential conflicts of interest, business wise, in being friends with the person.
- You are comfortable sharing information with this individual, and also you are comfortable with the information they share with you.
Social media should not be used to:
- Incite violence.
- Spread malicious stories.
- Share commercially sensitive or confidential work related information.
- Make negative comments about the Council, your colleagues, other Council employees and/or service users and customers.
You should bear in mind that:
- The way your message is interpreted may be different to how you intended it to be understood.
- Even if you use an online identity which distances you from your work or personal identity, you are still responsible for the information which you post and so this does not mean that you can post inappropriate material.
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