POLICY TITLE: Social Media
POLICY NUMBER: 1060 [section added 2/13] Reviewed 2/2020
1060.10 The Scott Valley Fire Protection District acknowledges that use of technology by emergency service organizations provides several useful benefits including training and the acquisition of useful information for the betterment of the organization and its members. It also allows for the dissemination of information to the public for recruitment, safety education and public relations purposes. As such, the District embraces the usage of instant technology to that end. We understand that social media can be a fun and rewarding way to share your life and opinions with family, friends and co-workers around the world. However, use of social media also presents certain risks and carries with it certain responsibilities. This policy establishes the District’s social media and instant technology use procedures and protocols which are intended to mitigate associated risks from the use of this technology where possible.
1060.11 No District social media site may be created without the approval of the Chief and Administrative Officer or their designee. All District social media sites created on behalf of the District shall be the property of the District and shall be administered by the Chief and/or his designee and shall be regularly monitored by the Chief.
1060.12 District’s social media sites shall be used only to inform the public about District business, services, educational opportunities, and events.
1060.13 Whenever possible, links with social media formats should direct users to the District website for more information, documents, or services necessary to conduct business within the District.
1060.14 District social media sites shall clearly state that such sites are maintained by the District and that the sites comply with this Social Media Policy.
1060.15 All social media-based services to be developed, designed, managed by or purchased from any third party source for District use requires approval from the Board of Commissioners.
1060.20 For the purposes of this policy, the term instant technology is defined as resources including, but not limited to, instant messaging, texting, paging and social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and any other information-sharing services, bulletin boards, chat rooms, websites, and/or blogs.
1060.30 This policy applies to all employees of the District, volunteer members of the Scott Valley Fire Protection District, Board members, and consultants and contractors performing business on behalf of the District.
1060.40 The District understands the value of such technology, but also understands the concerns and issues raised when information is released that violates privacy concerns or portrays this organization to the public in an illegal or negative manner (intentional or unintentional). Therefore, no information, videos or pictures or images of individuals receiving emergency assistance gathered while on District business (this includes all emergency calls: medical, traffic incidents, fires, public assists, rescues, body retrievals, etc.) may be shared or posted in any format without the prior approval and written consent of the Fire District’s Public Information Officer and/or Chiefs. Any such transmission may violate California State laws and/or the HIPPA privacy rights of such individuals and may result in a criminal and/or civil proceeding being commenced against members and employees violating this provision of the policy.
1060.50 This policy is not intended to limit your right to freedom of speech or expression; but as we are a public entity, it has been put in place to protect the rights of this organization, its members and the public we are sworn to protect. Members and employees are advised that their speech directly or by means of instant technology either on or off duty and in the course of their official duties that has a connection to their professional duties and responsibilities may not be protected speech under the First Amendment. As a basic constitutional concept of law, a public employee may comment on a matter of public concern. However, airing personal workplace grievances does not raise a matter of public concern.
Avoid speech that impairs or impedes the performance of the Fire Department/Fire District, undermines discipline and harmony among co-workers or negatively affects the public perception of the department/District. Express only your personal opinions. Never represent yourself as a spokesperson for the District. If the District is a subject of the content you are creating, be clear and open about the fact that you are a volunteer and make it clear that your views do not represent those of the District. If you do publish a blog or post online related to your volunteer activities you do or subjects associated with the District, make it clear that you are not speaking on behalf of the District. You should not use a photo of yourself in official uniform as your profile picture and you shouldn’t use your official title in posts or comments.
It is best to include a disclaimer such as “The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the District.”
1060.60 You are solely responsible for what you post online. Before creating online content, consider some of the risks and rewards that are involved. Keep in mind that any of your conduct adversely affects your job performance, the performance of fellow associates, other members, and/or the reputation of the District. Your actions may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
1060.70 Members and employees must follow the following guidelines when discussing the Fire Districts/Fire Department on Social media Websites:
· Do not make any disparaging or false statements or use profane language.
· Do not make any statements or other forms of speech that ridicule, malign, disparage or otherwise express bias against any race, religion or protected class of individual.
· Make clear that you are expressing your personal opinion and not that of the Fire District/Fire Department.
· Do not share confidential or proprietary information.
· Make sure you are always honest, respectful, and accurate when posting information or news, and if you make a mistake, correct it quickly. Be open about any previous posts you have altered. Remember that the Internet archives almost everything; therefore, even deleted postings can be searched.
· Do not violate Fire District/Fire Department policies including the Code of Ethics.
· Do not display Department or District logos, uniforms or similar identifying items without prior written permission.
· Do no post personal photographs or provide similar means of personal recognition that may cause you to be identified as a firefighter, officer or employee of the Department or District without prior written permission.
· Do not publish any materials that could reasonably be considered to represent the views or positions of the Department or District without authorization.
· Associates should not speak to the media on the District’s behalf. All media inquiries should be directed to the Public Information Officer or the Chiefs.