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  • 1. SOCIAL MEDIA Model Policy Effective Date Number August 2010 Subject Social Media Reference Special Instructions Distribution Reevaluation Date No. Pages August 2011 4I. PURPOSE vidual or individuals with administrator rights. The department endorses the secure use of social Post: Content an individual shares on a social media to enhance communication, collaboration, and media site or the act of publishing content on a site. information exchange; streamline processes; and fos- Profile: Information that a user provides about him- ter productivity. This policy establishes this depart- self or herself on a social networking site. ment’s position on the utility and management of Social Media: A category of Internet-based social media and provides guidance on its manage- resources that integrate user-generated content and ment, administration, and oversight. This policy is not user participation. This includes, but is not limited to, meant to address one particular form of social media, social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace), rather social media in general, as advances in technol- microblogging sites (Twitter, Nixle), photo- and video- ogy will occur and new tools will emerge. sharing sites (Flickr, YouTube), wikis (Wikipedia), blogs, and news sites (Digg, Reddit). Social Networks: Online platforms where users canII. POLICY create profiles, share information, and socialize with Social media provides a new and potentially valuable others using a range of technologies. means of assisting the department and its personnel in Speech: Expression or communication of thoughts meeting community outreach, problem-solving, inves- or opinions in spoken words, in writing, by expressive tigative, crime prevention, and related objectives. This conduct, symbolism, photographs, videotape, or relat- policy identifies potential uses that may be explored ed forms of communication. or expanded upon as deemed reasonable by adminis- Web 2.0: The second generation of the World Wide trative and supervisory personnel. The department Web focused on shareable, user-generated content, also recognizes the role that these tools play in the per- rather than static web pages. Some use this term inter- sonal lives of some department personnel. The per- changeably with social media. sonal use of social media can have bearing on depart- Wiki: Web page(s) that can be edited collaborative- mental personnel in their official capacity. As such, ly. this policy provides information of a precautionary nature as well as prohibitions on the use of social media by department personnel. IV. ON-THE-JOB USE A. Department-Sanctioned Presence 1. Determine strategyIII. DEFINITIONS a. Where possible, each social media page Blog: A self-published diary or commentary on a shall include an introductory statement that particular topic that may allow visitors to post clearly specifies the purpose and scope of responses, reactions, or comments. The term is short the agency’s presence on the website. for “Web log.” b. Where possible, the page(s) should link to Page: The specific portion of a social media website the department’s official website. where content is displayed, and managed by an indi- c. Social media page(s) shall be designed for
  • 2. the target audience(s) such as youth or b. The use of department computers by potential police recruits. department personnel to access social2. Procedures media is prohibited without authorization. a. All department social media sites or pages c. Department personnel use of personally shall be approved by the chief executive or owned devices to manage the department’s his or her designee and shall be adminis- social media activities or in the course of tered by the departmental information ser- official duties is prohibited without express vices section or as otherwise determined. written permission. b. Where possible, social media pages shall d. Employees shall observe and abide by all clearly indicate they are maintained by the copyright, trademark, and service mark department and shall have department restrictions in posting materials to electron- contact information prominently displayed. ic media. c. Social media content shall adhere to applic- B. Potential Uses able laws, regulations, and policies, includ- 1. Social media is a valuable investigative tool ing all information technology and records when seeking evidence or information about management policies. a. missing persons; (1)Content is subject to public records laws. b. wanted persons; Relevant records retention schedules c. gang participation; apply to social media content. d. crimes perpetrated online (i.e., cyberbully- (2)Content must be managed, stored, and ing, cyberstalking); and retrieved to comply with open records e. photos or videos of a crime posted by a par- laws and e-discovery laws and policies. ticipant or observer. d. Where possible, social media pages should 2. Social media can be used for community out- state that the opinions expressed by visitors reach and engagement by to the page(s) do not reflect the opinions of a. providing crime prevention tips; the department. b. offering online-reporting opportunities; (1)Pages shall clearly indicate that posted c. sharing crime maps and data; and comments will be monitored and that the d. soliciting tips about unsolved crimes (i.e., department reserves the right to remove Crimestoppers, text-a-tip). obscenities, off-topic comments, and per- 3. Social media can be used to make time-sensi- sonal attacks. tive notifications related to (2)Pages shall clearly indicate that any con- a. road closures, tent posted or submitted for posting is b. special events, subject to public disclosure. c. weather emergencies, and3. Department-Sanctioned Use d. missing or endangered persons. a. Department personnel representing the 4. Persons seeking employment and volunteer department via social media outlets shall positions use the Internet to search for oppor- do the following: tunities, and social media can be a valuable (1)Conduct themselves at all times as repre- recruitment mechanism. sentatives of the department and, 5. This department has an obligation to include accordingly, shall adhere to all depart- Internet-based content when conducting back- ment standards of conduct and observe ground investigations of job candidates. conventionally accepted protocols and 6. Searches should be conducted by a nondecision proper decorum. maker. Information pertaining to protected (2)Identify themselves as a member of the classes shall be filtered out prior to sharing any department. information found online with decision mak- (3)Not make statements about the guilt or ers. innocence of any suspect or arrestee, or 7. Persons authorized to search Internet-based comments concerning pending prosecu- content should be deemed as holding a sensi- tions, nor post, transmit, or otherwise tive position. disseminate confidential information, 8. Search methods shall not involve techniques including photographs or videos, related that are a violation of existing law. to department training, activities, or 9. Vetting techniques shall be applied uniformly work-related assignments without to all candidates. express written permission. 10. Every effort must be made to validate Internet- (4)Not conduct political activities or private based information considered during the hir- business. ing process. 2
  • 3. V. PERSONAL USE explicit language, images, or acts and state- A. Precautions and Prohibitions ments or other forms of speech that Barring state law or binding employment contracts ridicule, malign, disparage, or otherwise to the contrary, department personnel shall abide express bias against any race, any religion, by the following when using social media. or any protected class of individuals. 1. Department personnel are free to express them- b. Speech involving themselves or other selves as private citizens on social media sites department personnel reflecting behavior to the degree that their speech does not impair that would reasonably be considered reck- working relationships of this department for less or irresponsible. which loyalty and confidentiality are impor- 6. Engaging in prohibited speech noted herein, tant, impede the performance of duties, impair may provide grounds for undermining or discipline and harmony among coworkers, or impeaching an officer’s testimony in criminal negatively affect the public perception of the proceedings. Department personnel thus sanc- department. tioned are subject to discipline up to and 2. As public employees, department personnel including termination of office. are cautioned that speech on- or off-duty, made 7. Department personnel may not divulge infor- pursuant to their official duties—that is, that mation gained by reason of their authority; owes its existence to the employee’s profes- make any statements, speeches, appearances, sional duties and responsibilities—is not pro- and endorsements; or publish materials that tected speech under the First Amendment and could reasonably be considered to represent the may form the basis for discipline if deemed views or positions of this department without detrimental to the department. Department express authorization. personnel should assume that their speech and 8. Department personnel should be aware that related activity on social media sites will reflect they may be subject to civil litigation for upon their office and this department. a. publishing or posting false information that 3. Department personnel shall not post, transmit, harms the reputation of another person, or otherwise disseminate any information to group, or organization (defamation); which they have access as a result of their b. publishing or posting private facts and per- employment without written permission from sonal information about someone without the chief executive or his or her designee. their permission that has not been previ- 4. For safety and security reasons, department ously revealed to the public, is not of legiti- personnel are cautioned not to disclose their mate public concern, and would be offen- employment with this department nor shall sive to a reasonable person; they post information pertaining to any other c. using someone else’s name, likeness, or member of the department without their per- other personal attributes without that per- mission. As such, department personnel are son’s permission for an exploitative pur- cautioned not to do the following: pose; or a. Display department logos, uniforms, or d. publishing the creative work of another, similar identifying items on personal web trademarks, or certain confidential business pages. information without the permission of the b. Post personal photographs or provide sim- owner. ilar means of personal recognition that may 9. Department personnel should be aware that cause them to be identified as a police offi- privacy settings and social media sites are con- cer of this department. Officers who are, or stantly in flux, and they should never assume who may reasonably be expected to work that personal information posted on such sites in undercover operations, shall not post is protected. any form of visual or personal identifica- 10. Department personnel should expect that any tion. information created, transmitted, downloaded, 5. When using social media, department person- exchanged, or discussed in a public online nel should be mindful that their speech forum may be accessed by the department at becomes part of the worldwide electronic any time without prior notice. domain. Therefore, adherence to the depart- 11. Reporting violations—Any employee becom- ment’s code of conduct is required in the per- ing aware of or having knowledge of a posting sonal use of social media. In particular, depart- or of any website or web page in violation of ment personnel are prohibited from the follow- the provision of this policy shall notify his or ing: her supervisor immediately for follow-up a. Speech containing obscene or sexually action. 3
  • 4. Acknowledgment This Model Policy was developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Center for Social Media in conjunction with the IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center. We are appreciative of the many policy agencies across the country who shared their existing policies. Every effort has been made by the IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center staff and advisory board to ensure that this model policy incorporates the most current information and contemporary professional judgment on this issue. However, law enforcement administrators should be cautioned that no “model” policy can meet all the needs of any given law enforcement agency. Each law enforcement agency operates in a unique environment of federal court rulings, state laws, local ordinances, regulations, judicial and administrative decisions and col- lective bargaining agreements that must be considered. In addition, the formulation of specific agency policies must take into account local political and community perspectives and customs, prerogatives and demands; often divergent law enforce- ment strategies and philosophies; and the impact of varied agency resource capa- bilities among other factors. This project was supported by Grant No. 2006-DG-BX-K004 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs, coordinates the activi- ties of the following program offices and bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Institute of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office of Victims of Crime. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not represent the official position or policies of the United States Department of Justice or the IACP.© Copyright 2010. International Association of Chiefs of Police, Alexandria,Virginia U.S.A. All rights reserved under both international and Pan-Americancopyright conventions. No reproduction of any part of this material may be madewithout prior written consent of the copyright holder. 4