Imperial County Adopts Social Media Policy

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EL CENTRO — To address the fast-changing landscape of the internet and its dissemination of information, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously 5-0 Tuesday to adopt a policy which establishes guidelines and procedures for the establishment and use of official County social media accounts.

Communication through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr are hoped to allow the County and those speaking on its behalf to better communicate with the community.

While the official website is to remain the County’s primary internet presence, the County views social media as a complementary tool in furthering goals and sharing helpful information with the local community.

According to Imperial County Public Information Officer Rebecca Terrazas-Baxter, each department will receive guidance and information concerning “the responsibilities of page administrators and publishers who will be updating the pages and establishing them.”

The policy also goes into additional detail on emergencies and emerging incidents, and how departments will coordinate to ensure the same information is shared that will be helpful for those affected by the emergency.

The County will also coordinate on establishing hashtags that would be used during an emergency, including earthquakes, natural disasters, or active shooter incidents.

“This is a living document. Changes may come as the technologies evolve,” said Terrazas-Baxter.

Each department must apply for a social media account, which will be maintained by the department but also overseen by the PIO. Each department may have accounts across multiple platforms with the exception of YouTube; the County will have only one official YouTube account.

Content shared by the County will follow the three “tenets” of being relevant, timely and actionable. Since the accounts will exist for the purpose of disseminating information associated with the County, all comments will be disabled unless otherwise authorized by Ralph Cordova, the County Executive Officer.

In addition, each social media account will include the disclaimer: “Following or ‘friending’ persons or organizations is not an endorsement by the County and is only intended as a means of communication.”

Cordova stressed consideration on whether additional internet usage among County facilities in remote locations without high speed internet would have any negative impact on the essential functions of that office.

While social media platforms such as Facebook have design features which makes sharing articles and posts from outside websites easy and accessible, other popular platforms such as Snapchat are not commonly viewed as a source for official news.

Justin Taylor, Global Director of Digital Marketing for Nike Basketball, has argued that social media engagement will begin to decline.

“This year I think we are going to see a huge drop off in social media usage across the board but especially from youth,” said Taylor via Twitter. “While the people posting won’t disappear, those willing to scroll through and engage with their feeds will decline.”

Taylor attributes this to the growing dominance of vitriolic politics in social media.

“The constant news cycle of Trump and negativity will start to wear on people, as well as their lack of faith in who to trust for news… [and] shift trust more and more away from brands/news stations/tv and more and more to friends/influencers/athletes/celebrities. The next generation aren’t broadcasters, they’re in their own little tribes making Snapchat, iMessage and Instagram DM groups with friends.”

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