LMC Sample Social Media Policy Updated

In light of judicial and advisory opinions over the past few months, the League has updated its sample Social Media Policy. If your city is active on social media, this may be a policy worth checking out.

—View Social Media, LMC Sample Policy (doc)

How was this policy changed from the previous one?

The following are some of the changes in the policy:

  • It’s shorter. While the policy still seeks to manage expectations of the public in terms of public interactions, we’ve removed most of the requirements upon staff that are better left to a personnel policy. (See the LMC Personnel Policy Template, sec. 1.06.)
  • The new policy sets out basic standards for use of social media in accordance with the state records retention schedule that can virtually eliminate the city’s need to retain social media data. (See Administration, Correspondence-Messages in the state records retention schedule.)
  • The policy now includes an area to list the city’s social media accounts. This can help distinguish what social media accounts and accompanying data the city intends to be responsible for, and which it does not.
  • The policy also includes a sample friendly public notice to announce some terms of use and, again, manage expectations.

Do we need to adopt this policy if we already have one?

If you have been using the League’s old social media policy, it’s well worth taking a look at this one. Our goal was to build in some safeguards based on legal and advisory opinions we’ve seen more recently.

The new policy may have some things that could help guide the city to avoid trouble, such as the updated comment removal standards.

If your city has been using social media without a policy, consider using this new sample as a guide. Following a policy could help formalize interactions with the public and hopefully help you avoid any potential problems.

Is this all we need to have a positive social media experience?

It’s just a piece of the puzzle. Social media is somewhat of a mine field. It is a rapidly developing area of law related to one of our most cherished values, freedom of expression. It can be a place for entertainment and information, but also sadness and anger.

No policy can address all aspects of how a city should best use social media to interact with the public. It takes professionalism of staff, a thorough understanding of the platforms of choice, and the ability to consult the city attorney occasionally, just to name a few things. At the same time, there is no better way currently to connect with constituents spontaneously than through social media.

The League plans to keep revising this policy as the law develops. We hope it can be part of your city’s social media success story.  

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