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Complaints prompt new social media guidelines for councillors

Sunday 14 April 2019

Comprehensive social media guidelines are now available for Queensland councillors to help manage their online presence following a spate of social media related complaints.

Councillor complaints body, the Office of the Independent Assessor, and the Local Government Association of Queensland collaborated to produce the Your Social Media and You guide and suggested community rules ahead of the 2020 council elections.

Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian said the OIA is now dealing with more than 600 complaints including more social media related complaints.

“This office has so far received 36 complaints relating to the use of social media, sparking 24 detailed investigations across eight councils with complaints ranging from releasing confidential information to making inappropriate comments on social media,” Ms Florian said.

“With less than a year until the next council elections, complaints historically increase so it is in the best interests of the community that councillors use this best-practice guide and set their social media community rules.

“They are designed to assist councillors with suggestions on how to deal fairly with public comments as well as learning how to warn and block people who do break the community rules”

The Your Social Media and You 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 that are set up to inappropriately attack councillors.

Ms Florian said councillors need to be aware that if they are identifiable as a councillor on a social media platform, then their conduct on that site is subject to the Councillor Code of Conduct

“I thank the LGAQ, the Electoral Commission Queensland, the Integrity Commissioner, CCC, Queensland State Archives and the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs for their valuable contributions to address what we see is a growing issue,” Ms Florian said.

“These guidelines strike a balance between ensuring councillors use of social media is appropriate and open to positive, negative, or neutral electorate feedback, while also supporting councillors to protect themselves against unacceptable online behaviour.”

View Your Social Media and You guide (PDF, 2.3MB) and Queensland Councillor Social Media Community Guideline (PDF, 277KB).


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Last updated: 14 Apr 2019