Social Media

State leaders are caught between a rock and a hard place.  The public expects them to be accessible on social media and the web, but these tools open up a range of public relations and technological literacy challenges.  Given that many state leaders may not have the resources for a communcations staff to manage their online identity, CSG will be offering the webinar Protecting Your Online Identity as part of its Leadership Center program to empower public servants in state government. 

Senate Bill 434 in Maryland will make it illegal for higher education institutions to insist that students hand over usernames, passwords, "friend" a coach or administrator, or make social media communications public.  The bill is intended to protect students' free speech, and it's come into the spotlight as coaches are wrestling with the public relations problems caused by student-athletes on social media.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press publishes the Open Government Guide for journalists so that they can understand each state's policies regarding public information.  State officials should also examine the guide, however, because it will help them better understand what communications are subject to review by the public.  As electronic communications tools evolve and multiply, state officials could inadvertently find themselves using new technology without fully understanding what public information responsibilites are entailed.

They're a tempting target for Facebook users--links to scandalous or shocking videos that appear in your newsfeed, often appearing to be "liked" by your friends.  Sometimes, however, these "video links" are just part of a deceptive marketing campaign that intends to trick you into signing up for subscriptions you probably do not want or into revealing personal information.  Adscend Media has been using such tactics, which are commonly referred to as "clickjacking."  These practices are misleading, and that is why Washington state Attorney General Rob MeKenna and Facebook have filed suit against the company.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has been in talks with social media sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter to make their contract terms more amenable to state governments.  Generally the social media “click-through” contracts, or Terms of Service Agreements, have two salient issues:  first, they have indemnity clauses that could require state governments to pay legal fees related to a lawsuit against the companies and second, cases often would need to be tried in the court of the company’s home state.  Thanks to the diligent work of NASCIO’s Social Media Legal Workgroup, Facebook has already provided a revamped contract for state officials, and now Google’s YouTube has made similar updates.

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