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Social Media Posts Are ‘On The Record’

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Replying or reacting to a post on a Councillor’s social media page can wind up in their Council’s permanent records under new guidelines released by the LGAQ and OIA (Graphic: LGAQ/OIA)

Local Government Minister
Stirling Hinchliffe

April 14, 2019

A new set of guidelines explaining the “do’s and don’ts” of how Councillors manage their social media accounts has been issued by the State Government.

The guidelines include capturing and storing Councillor posts, and replies made to those posts by the public, in each Council’s official records.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the social media guidelines were an important new resource for Queensland’s councillors.

“Councillor complaints tend to spike ahead of elections, so these new guidelines are particularly relevant leading into the March 2020 Local Government polls,” he said.

“They’re designed to assist councillors in their interactions with other social media users, and to avoid unnecessary conflict and complaints.”

Mr Hinchliffe said the guidelines set out how councillors can deal with abusive, threatening and obscene social media posts.

“Social media is an important communication tool for councillors that allows people to participate in open and constructive conversation,” he said.

“But it shouldn’t be used by councillors to shut down debate or block users they consider a nuisance.

“Councillors should never have to tolerate trolling or abuse, and by following these guidelines they can both protect themselves and minimise the risk of complaints.”

The Local Government Association of Queensland and the Office of the Independent Assessor collaborated to produce the “Your Social Media and You” guide.

The new guide outlines:

  • The difference between a councillor’s official, election and private pages
  • How the Councillor Code of Conduct applies
  • Moderation of comments, and
  • How to recognise and capture posts which are public records

It also addresses how to manage election campaign platforms and what to do about social media sites set up to attack councillors.

Mr Hinchliffe said the OIA is now dealing with more than 600 complaints, including 36 complaints relating to the use of social media.

“Councillors who are identifiable as a councillor on a social media platform need to be aware their conduct on that site is subject to the Councillor Code of Conduct.”

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