A new City of Wetaskiwin social media policy for staff led to a council debate on freedom of speech versus mandatory employee behavior during its Nov. 28 meeting.
The policy was passed; however, Coun. Joe Branco did not vote in favour of the policy.
Under the new policy, only those designated by city manager Dave Burgess will be permitted to represent the city on social media.
Individual department accounts will not be permitted, with the exception of protective services, the Manluk Centre, archives, community development, and the Wetaskiwin Public Library. The department had accounts prior to the policy and the city does not want to disrupt their following.
Coun. Patricia MacQuarrie felt like there was nothing in the policy to prevent employees from representing the city on unofficial social media platforms and wanted something added to the policy that would address such an issue if one arose. She called for an amendment of the policy. “We just need something about representing the city on outside media.”
It was decided city employees will be required to adhere to the city code of conduct, which they sign upon employment, when using internal and external social media sites.
Branco’s vote opposed the amendment.
Branco says the city should not be able to control what employees do off the clock — as long as they did not specifically refer to themselves as city employees. “You can’t gag your employees.”
Coun. June Boyda was in favour of the amendment. “When you’re focusing on social media it’s lasting, it has a different impact.”