Updated Elbert County Social Media Policy

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Chancy J. Gatlin-Anderson
Special for Colorado Community Media

Elbert County commissioners met June 6 to discuss updates to the county’s social media policy, which is due for adoption July 13. While county officials are supportive of the new policy that plans to disable comments on social media posts, many community deputies are concerned that it will reduce communication between citizens and officials.

According to the agenda file for the June 6 meeting, the purpose of the policy is to provide guidance on the use of social media to provide the public with timely and important information. The county does not intend to provide a platform for debate, conflict, personal opinions, misinformation, offers of professional services, or other off-topic discussions.

The new policy will apply to all county-operated departments, offices, employees, volunteers and social media accounts.

“It is always difficult to find the right level of communication to reach citizens. Our goal is to use social media platforms to spread information,” said Elbert County Executive Sam Albrecht. “What we see, however, is a lot of off-topic and blurry dialogue. We see incorrect and antagonistic information. We see comments that promote personal agendas.

Albrecht said there have been several instances of citizens giving incorrect or inappropriate information on official social media pages during emergencies.

“A few recent examples come from situations where we had to deal with emergency situations,” laments Albrecht. “Some people posted incorrect information or used emergency situations to promote their business, such as roof inspections and repairs.”

Several members of the community, however, fear that this new policy will stifle communication between county leaders and their constituents. Others argue that limiting communication amounts to depriving citizens of freedom of expression.

The most common complaint from citizens is that meetings with the Board of County Commissioners are not held at convenient times for the public to attend, necessitating public comment and social media discussions.

“Meetings don’t happen at times convenient for workers,” noted one commenter on a community Facebook page, where another wrote, “I always see them being held in the middle of the day when everyone is working .”

Other comments referred to “unquestioned propaganda”, communism and the suppression of free speech.

The official policy is divided into five points:

a. Social media will be used to convey important information and notifications to citizens of Elbert County.

b. Official County social media accounts will not be created or owned by individuals and will be created and administered as organizational accounts.

vs. Comments on social media posts will be disabled. However, message sharing will be enabled whenever possible.

D. Social media posts will include a line for those seeking more information and may include email, phone number and/or a link to the PIO (Public Information Officer) website for more information.

e. Social media polls or surveys may be used to receive feedback on the development of plans and policy changes.

F. The PIO will have access to all official county government social media accounts

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