Social media tips for Preston's councillors

A new social media protocol has been proposed
A new social media protocol has been proposed
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Warnings about the pitfalls of posting on social media when drunk form part of new advice issued to Preston’s councillors.

The need for an updated social media protocol was discussed by elected members this week after concerns were voiced that the previous set of guidelines was out of date.

Councillors have also been advised to avoid “blurring” their personal and official accounts to avoid falling foul of local authority sanctions.

A report presented to the standards committee said the council recognised the important role social media platforms can play in the role of a councillor.

The report reads: “(Social media) is an incredibly useful tool which has changed the way many members now engage and communicate with the public... at a fraction of the cost of more traditional means of communication.”

But the negative aspects of social media are also emphasised with the protocol highlighting the “legal burdens” of publishing controversial material.

Advice includes not to “post in haste, particularly if your judgement might be impaired, for example, if you have consumed alcohol.”

And “take care not to give the impression that you have already made up your mind before hearing all the evidence and arguments if you are involved in any quasi-judicial decision.”

Government guidelines issued in 2013 opened up local authority proceedings, meaning both the media and the public could record and post updates on social media.

Councillors have been warned that, although they are allowed to tweet, they should not “give the impression that insufficient attention is being paid to the business of the meeting.”