PARRY SOUND – The town now has a social media policy added to its Code of Conduct.
Last week council approved the addition that includes: no posting of information about the town as discussed in closed session or information about fellow councillors or town employees; no use of social media during a council meeting; no discussing situations involving named or pictured individuals without their permission; and no posting anything that you would not present in a public form.
In January, the motion was brought forward to have staff look into a policy after Mayor Jamie McGarvey criticized Coun. Dave Williams for Tweeting during council meetings.
“How is it proposed that positive identification will be determined on social media outlets,” Williams asked of the new policy at council’s Sept. 4 meeting. “For someone who uses Twitter, you can find on Twitter at least 1,000 accounts that represent C.S. Lewis or Martin Luther King or Abraham Lincoln - these people have been deceased for a long time and yet someone clearly is using their name on a social media website. How would we propose that positive identification?
“Someone can say they’re speaking as Mayor McGarvey and it may not be Mayor McGarvey so what I’m suggesting is how can Mayor McGarvey be held accountable for actions which someone else is claiming to do on his behalf?”
McGarvey said he would sue anyone claiming to be him.
Donna Besman, town manager of administration, said it is a complaint-driven policy.
“It would have to be determined if somebody was posing as Mayor McGarvey and a complaint was made about what he said on his Twitter, then the complaint would be investigated and we would have to determine that it was indeed not Mayor McGarvey,” said Besman, adding that the policy would not be monitored by staff.
Williams suggested an amendment to the bylaw, which would have council and staff register their account names to ensure their identity.
“The intent is not to monitor council’s use of social media, the intent was just to respond to council’s request to have some guidelines for social media use in the municipality,” said Besman. “As you are aware, I did some research and there are very few municipalities that have any kind of guidelines for social media use. I did consult with your investigator and she essentially okayed what was here as being a nice, broad guideline. This is very new to municipalities, and obviously to you as well, and this is supposed to be as general and as clear as can be provided at this time for guidelines of social media. I would expect as things develop and as you use more social media, that this will have to be amended in some way and potentially more added to it.”
Council voted on Williams’ amendment, it was defeated with only Williams voting in favour. Council approved the original bylaw on a new social media policy.