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South Hill adopts social media policy / September 15, 2021
South Hill has a new social media policy to guide the conduct of municipal employees when posting online.

The policy, passed by South Hill Town Council at its monthly meeting Monday night, prohibits Town employees from participating on any social media platform during working hours except in cases of emergency or when posting community information that is needed for public knowledge.

Even those emergency or community information posts are “subject to review by the Town Manager [Kim Callis] or Police Chief [Stuart Bowen],” the policy states.

It makes clear that its purpose is not to ban or restrict employees from using social media or “commenting on matters of public concern.” That concern does not include posting “financial, confidential, sensitive, or proprietary information about the Town or its customers, employees, council, citizens, and candidates.”

Town workers are asked to be cognizant of the fact that any comments they make “could reflect poorly on you and the Town” and that social media sites “are not the forum for venting personal complaints about supervisors, co-workers, or the Town.”

The policy includes a reminder that items posted to a social media site “remain in cyberspace forever” and that “nothing posted is ever truly private.”

Unfavorable posts about the Town or any of the workers are to be forwarded to the HR Director Carol Hutchinson or Town Manager Kim Callis for review.

Any postings that reference job-related content or the Town should include a disclaimer that “The opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not represent the views of the Town of South Hill.”

The new policy makes clear that without prior authorization, no Town employee may speak on behalf of the Town, and staff are expected to protect the privacy of the Town, its employees, and citizens.

Employees who violate the policy can be subjected to disciplinary action including termination of their employment.

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