On Tuesday the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a social media policy that will pave the way for City Manager Mike Housewright to create the town’s first Facebook page.
City Attorney John Pevy said it is a “carbon copy” of the recommended MTAS (the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service) social media policy.
Mayor Chris Jones noted that the board has received requests from the library, police department, fire department, and city hall for permission to use social media to keep the public informed.
Although there are multiple options to reach the public via social media, Housewright said he believes Facebook is the most efficient for reaching the community.
Housewright said he will designate someone in his office to keep the Facebook page updated, and it will be his responsibility to approve all posted materials and remove any inappropriate comments.
“I will assign staff as we identify them for posting general communications. I have some staff I think are well suited for that,” Housewright told the BMA Tuesday. “But ultimately I will be monitoring all content that goes onto that. Of course, as part of open records, anything that goes onto social media becomes record. In enforcement of that, I will screen shot, and I will document the content. I will archive it and then I will remove it.”
Housewright said his intent at this time is to allow the public to make comments on items that the city posts on its Facebook page.
However, he won’t allow public comments to get ugly, political or off topic.
“The purpose of this social media page is not as much to facilitate discussion as it is a way for the town to communicate to people,” Housewright noted. “That being said, I’d like to leave the comments on, but if dialogue becomes detrimental to the town communicating, I could see a scenario where we have to disable comments, especially in an election year and a lot of political things going on — especially things going on in the news. We want to keep content relevant to the town.
“We certainly want to facilitate dialogue, but it can go sideways very quickly.”