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Valley adopts social media policy

VALLEY — The City of Valley has adopted a social media policy. It was adopted in a unanimous vote at Tuesday’s council meeting and is being included in the existing employee handbook.

The policy covers city employee use of media platforms and programs such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, Yelp, YouTube and news content sites.

“Employees may maintain social media sites or profiles or may contribute posts to the sites or profiles of other people, businesses or groups,” the policy reads. “It is important to understand that posts, images, tweets, emails and messages can be re-sent around the world. Even when precautions to restrict access to personal posts or profiles are taken, it is possible that someone who is permitted to use the site can copy it and use it in a way that was not intended.”

Guidelines have been adopted to assist city employees in their daily use of social media so it does not conflict with their employment by the city.

City officials said it is not the intent of the policy to prohibit free speech.

“Outside the workplace,” the policy continues, “you have the right to participate in social media and networks using your personal email address. However, information and communication that you publish on personal online sites should never be attributed to the City of Valley, appear to be endorsed by or have originated from the City of Valley.”

The policy assigns responsibility for what employees post online.

“Before creating content,” it reads, “employees should consider some of the risks and rewards that are involved. An employee’s conduct that adversely affects his or her job performance, the performance of fellow employees or business associates who work on behalf of the City of Valley may result in disciplinary action up to and leading to termination.”

Unless approved by the mayor or their department head, a city employee should not use their emails to create accounts on social media sites for purposes of professional development or association. Employees are barred from disclosing inside information about the city’s citizens, employees or taxpayers that has been learned in the course of their employment.

An employee cannot identify a customer or co-worker in an online posting without his or her prior written permission.

The city can address as a disciplinary issue anything posted on a blog or social media site that reflects negatively on an employee’s work ethic or level of commitment to and compassion for citizens, customers and business associates.

“Employees should be alert,” the policy reads, “that posting pictures of themselves or other employees in city uniforms could link their employment with the City of Valley to their actions and statements.”

The policy reads that employees should express only their personal opinions when exercising free speech and never represent themselves as a spokesperson for the city (e.g. “The postings on this site are my views only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the City of Valley.”)

Employee views and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

“In keeping with an open-door policy, employees are encouraged to bring suggestions for improvement to their department head, human resources officer or the mayor,” the policy reads. “The City of Valley’s equipment, including computers, internet access, electronic and digital systems and storage, are not to be used for an employee’s personal social media,” the policy reads. “Working time should not be spent creating, updating of visiting personal social media posts, sites and spaces unless it’s a job requirement.”

Violations of the policy may result in discipline, up to and including termination of employment. Questions about the new policy should be directed to the employee’s department manager and/or the city’s human resources department.

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