Utah County Adopts Social Media Policy for Civil Servants and Employees Following Appeal | Government and politics


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Utah County on Wednesday adopted a social media policy outlining guidelines for communication and record retention after the state’s Records Committee berated the county for failing to follow best practices in case management. files.

The Utah County Social Media Management Policy, which the Utah County Commission unanimously approved without discussion, applies to “all posts, comments, posts and content created, generated, produced and / or maintained by official county social media sites ”, while it“ does not apply to personal social media accounts of elected officials, including personal accounts that designate the elected official as elected official County. “

The policy states that “public officials and all staff must use official social media accounts for all government business conducted on social media.”

According to the policy, county departments must ensure that “government communications are not from personal accounts” and that “personal communications are never made through government social media accounts,” as well as “elected officials n ” use government accounts to post content that reflects the interests of campaigns or political parties.

“The use of personal social media accounts to conduct business in the county is prohibited,” the social media policy states. “If a personal social media account is used for government business, the content created is a public record and the personal social media account must be managed and archived in accordance with public record laws and these policies. “

Under the enforcement section, the policy states that “any county employee, except elected officials posting or commenting on their own personal or official political social media site, who knowingly violates this policy will be liable disciplinary action, including, but not limited to. to, temporary loss of network connectivity, loss of Internet access, or complete and permanent termination of access to any Utah County network.

The new policy comes just days after the State Records Committee dismissed an appeal filed by Utah County resident Mark Allen regarding potential text messages sent or received by Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee , regarding the private development of Bridal Veil Falls.

In December 2020, Allen requested the texts from the Utah County Attorney’s Office. The attorney’s office denied his request for records because “the County of Utah does not pay for its private cell phone and subsequently we do not prepare, own, receive or retain associated records. “.

In its order, the State Records Committee wrote that “after considering the arguments and evidence presented to the Committee, the Committee is satisfied that … (the county) does not have any records responding to Mr. Allen.

But the committee also referred to two cases in Utah claiming “that a file prepared by a government employee in his capacity as a government employee may be considered a” file “submitted to GRAMA,” including text messages.

The Archives Committee expressed the hope that “the archival management practices of government entities will be changed in the near future to allow the public better access to electronic public communications by agents acting in their capacity as” public officials, whether or not communications are made. by public or private electronic devices.

Notably, the six-page social media policy adopted by Utah County on Wednesday does not set guidelines for texting or personal phones.

“A policy on the use of cell phones is sorely lacking,” Allen told the Daily Herald on Thursday.

Allen recommended that the county adopt a policy prohibiting the use of personal telephones for official business and providing officials with official telephones.

“I think they need to standardize something,” he said.

But Allen said he still sees the policy as “a step in the right direction” that will increase transparency in local government. “The importance of social media policies should not be underestimated.”

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and southern Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at [email protected] and 801-344-2599.

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