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Goffstown adopts new social media policy for town offices

Union Leader Correspondent

October 07. 2012 9:37PM

GOFFSTOWN - If you're on Facebook, you'll soon have one more reason to 'like' the town of Goffstown.

The town has adopted a social media policy that will allow town departments to join social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Town Administrator Sue Desruisseaux said the town's computer use policy didn't specifically address the use of social media, and when Selectman Scott Gross suggested using Facebook to communicate information to the public, the town's legal counsel recommended a formal policy that provides guidelines and limitations.

The Board of Selectmen approved the policy at its Oct. 1 meeting.

While departments can put information on a Facebook page, those who see it won't be able to make comments.

'It is not the intended purpose behind establishing Town of Goffstown social media sites to establish a designated public forum for the public to engage in expressive activity or a dialogue between the town and its citizens,' the policy states.

Gross saidhaving staffcontinuously monitor the sites for appropriate content would have beentoo labor intensive to keep up.

The Board of Selectmen will have the right to make exceptions to that rule, as they have with the Police Department's use of iNeighbor, or when they are specifically seeking public feedback on a particular project.

The town website will remain the town's primary source for information, but Desruisseaux said there is a slight shift in the way information is obtained by the public when they use social media.

'The town website is a pull, where Facebook is a push,' she said. People can find useful information by logging on to the town website, but the town will now have one more way to disseminate information to the public.

The Information Technology department will set up the initial social networking site, to ensure that the appropriate security settings are in place, and the department that sets up the site will be responsible for maintaining it.

The policy also states that employees must conduct themselves as town representatives at all times, and must follow all town policies, as well as state and federal laws.

'It's a good thing whenever any government entity can communicate effectively with its citizens,' Gross said.

Whether it's reminding residents about a delay in trash pick-up, informing them about Town Hall closing due to inclement weather or posting notices about town elections, Gross anticipates that the use of social media will be beneficial to the town.

'There are so many opportunities here to get our messages out,' he said.

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