City adopts social media policy

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Pierra WillixSound Telegraph
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City of Rockingham administration building.
Camera IconCity of Rockingham administration building. Credit: WA News

City of Rockingham councillors will be bound by a new social media policy that will require them to delete offensive, defamatory or misleading comments on their social media accounts.

At last week’s council meeting, councillors voted to adopt the communications and social media policy, which established protocols for the City’s official communications with its community, to ensure it was “professionally and accurately represented”.

Earlier this year, public submissions were called for on the policy, but only 14 residents responded.

Many of the respondents opposed the policy, with some saying it would effectively “gag” councillors and affect those who used social media to inform residents about council decisions.

An online petition against the proposed policy was also received, but received only 25 signatures.

Last month, Local Government Minister David Templeman said “robust debate” was crucial for democracy but had to be respectful, and that the level and intensity of vitriol towards councillors and local government officials appeared to have increased with the rise of social media.

“I don’t think an elected member should be subjected to threats, subtle and/or overt social media attacks,” he said.

Cr Matthew Whitfield, whose Facebook page Baldivis Now has around 10,000 followers, said he would continue to use the profile in wake of the policy passing.

However he, and other councillors, will now be required to moderate their social media accounts to address and, where necessary, delete inappropriate content.

The policy went into effect immediately.

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