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Councillors handed social media rulebook
9:00am Sunday 9th December 2012 in Echo News
COUNCILLORS are set to be given a social media rulebook in a bid to prevent outbursts on the likes of Twitter and Facebook.
As more councillors try their hand at posting on the web, Basildon Council will circulate social media guidance to members to help them from being rude to other politicians and residents.
Guidance included in the policy includes ‘avoid personal attacks and disrespectful, rude, or offensive comments, ‘treat others with respect’, and ‘you are personally responsible for the content you publish on any form of social media.’
Members are also told not to post confidential and personal information.
Last month, Labour councillor Phil Rackley apologised publicly after posting offensive comments about town mayoress Mo Larkin on Facebook.
Mr Rackley admitted he had posted comments under a photo of Mrs Larkin which said she looked like “lamb dressed as mutton” on the site.
Earlier on in the year, Tory councillor Luke Mackenzie landed himself in trouble after inadvertantly called a group of disabled protestors a ‘bunch of unwashed people.’
Several members of Basildon Council have Twitter accounts, including Labour councillor Gavin Callaghan, who represents Pitsea North West.
He said: “This guidance is a monumental waste of time and money.
“We’re all in a position of responsibility and quite simply, don’t say something online than you wouldn’t offline. If people need guidance on that then it’s a state state of affairs.
“Social media is a fantastic forum for talking to constituents. I wouldn’t have been elected if it wasn’t for Facebook.”
Members of the council’s Joint Standards Committee approved plans on Tuesday to give out the guidance to councillors.
A council spokesman said: "In recognition of the growth of social media and the ever increasing numbers of councillors using it as a way of communicating with residents and each other, it was appropriate to devise a social media policy.
"This is sensible and straight-forward guidance that covers legal considerations as well as the Code of Conduct and will help councillors use social media with the confidence that they are not breaching any guidelines."