Don't be a Twit! Neath Port Talbot Council lays down internet rules
A GUIDE to the dos and don'ts of social media has been drawn up to stop council workers Tweeting their way into #trouble.
Neath Port Talbot Council will today approve its first social media policy for staff using Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and other sites — not just on council business but during their own time too.
Swansea and Carmarthenshire councils have also addressed the growing use of social media sites.
According to Neath Port Talbot's head of human resources, Graham Jones, the decision to introduce the new policy was not down to any problem within the council.
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"It has been triggered by the fact that we are using social media a lot more," he said. "Facebook is used regularly, for example, by our libraries and by refuse collection.
"We are using it more and more as a communication method. It's a more popular way of working and we felt it was the right time to give staff some guidance on how to use it."
One section of the policy document is aimed at staff authorised to use social media on behalf of the council.
Among the requirements is one insisting they should not discuss any meetings or matters that are private, confidential or internal. Neither should individuals or organisations be named without their approval.
There are also restrictions and recommendations on personal use, such as forbidding council workers to use the authority's logo on personal pages.
They are also advised not to make "friends" with, for example, pupils and parents.
Mr Jones said: "That is not based on anything that has happened in Neath Port Talbot, but experience elsewhere. It's about being careful and about being safe.
"We have a code of conduct that tells staff what behaviour and conduct we expect of them, and in a way this new policy transfers that into the electronic world.
"For example, they can only use the council's email address for council business. Now we're doing the same thing with social media."
A Swansea Council spokeswoman said: "Staff access to social media websites is only granted for specific service use and there is no general access for staff.
"In 2010 we issued guidance for staff raising awareness of the implications of using social media and getting the most out of social media tools."
A Carmarthenshire Council spokeswoman added: "Staff are not allowed to access social media sites during working hours for personal use.
"This is covered through our IT internet access and usage policy. The communications team has developed a best practice guide for social media usage as a communications tool by the authority.
"The guide explains the importance of bilingual communications, guidelines for using social media and case studies from our own Facebook page. The guide is intended only for staff who access social media for council communications purposes."