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Osceola County Social Media Use Policy

Effective Date: 10/01/2020

1.0 Purpose and Introduction

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for and ensure the proper management, retention and use of the County’s social media accounts.

County run Social media accounts provide an interactive means of sharing information that relates to Osceola County. They provide an easy-to-use means of engaging citizens and others. Social media can be especially effective in communicating information in crisis situations when timeliness of the information is crucial. Publicly posted information will be professional and reflect positively on Osceola County, its employees, programs, policies and services.

The goals for Osceola County Social Media Use are:

  • To increase public awareness of the County’s programs, policies and services
  • To promote the value and importance of the County’s programs, policies and services among government officials, civic leaders, residents and the public
  • To maintain open, professional and responsive communications with members of the public and the news media

This policy, and its provisions, apply to and serve as a guide to all County employees, departments and contracted entities that share information on behalf of the County while engaging in any social media activities implied or directed

All social media communications, messages and comments are subject to public records laws. All of the County’s social media sites shall comply with Chapter 119, and any other applicable sections of the Florida State Statutes. Osceola County will use a third-party service provider to automatically capture and retain all social media interaction on County-owned social media accounts.

The County Manager or designee is ultimately responsible for the maintenance and monitoring of all Osceola County social media accounts in accordance with this policy.

The Communications Office -- in coordination with the County Manager’s Office -- is the primary point of contact for each department and will provide an overview and training of this social media policy and its implementation.

The Communications Office will oversee the public information records management program with support from the County Manager’s Office. The Information Technology Department will provide the necessary technology services, security, guidance and technical assistance for effective social media usage and retention. Authorized users are responsible for actively engaging in social media by posting pertinent information on behalf of the County on a consistent basis and in compliance with this social media policy.

2.0 Scope and Terms of Acceptable Use

2.1 Private Social Media Accounts

County employees with personal social media accounts should allow those accounts to remain personal in nature and not used for county business. Following this principle helps ensure a distinction between sharing personal and agency views. County employees shall not use their county e-mail account with a personal social networking account.

2.2 Osceola County Social Media Accounts

All social media networking communication messages composed, sent, or received on County social media accounts are the property of the County and subject to public record laws.

County employees and officials may use County social networking sites as a function of their employment with the County, when authorized and within their respective delegated areas of employment responsibilities and duties.

Osceola County social networking sites shall contain the following disclaimer:

County social media networking sites are not monitored all the time. Do not use social media if you need to report an emergency or a time-sensitive issue. All emergencies should be reported by dialing 9-1-1. All content posted on a County social networking site is subject to Florida’s Public Records Law (Section 119.07, F.S.). All public records requests shall be made by contacting the Communications Office at https://www.osceola.org/agencies-departments/community-outreach/index.stml.

2.3 Direct Communications and Messaging

Where possible, all social media accounts offering “direct messaging” capabilities shall enable auto-responses. The message shall conform to one of the following:

  • Main County or General Department Accounts: Informs the sender that the message has been received, and the County will respond as soon as possible, reflecting business hours for County office. This message can also direct to appropriate websites for common information or requests (i.e. Citizens Action Center).
  • Public Safety Accounts: Informs the message sender that the message has been received, and the account is not monitored 24-hours a day. Therefore the reporting of any incident or emergency should be reported by dialing 9-1-1.

The County may use social media accounts for two-way communications, including direct or private messaging and replying to comments posted, unless otherwise directed by the County Manager. Authorized County Staff reserves the right to remove or hide content that is deemed inappropriate content under Section 2.4 of this policy. Any information that is removed shall retained in accordance with this policy and Florida Public Records Laws

2.4 Limitations on Use

While social media platforms provide an effective forum for building relationships and for conveying pieces of information, these platforms do not serve as the County’s sole or primary means of communication with residents, businesses or others.

The County’s social media accounts are intended to be used for informational purposes only and serve as a limited public forum. The County will use more appropriate means to communicate detailed information about complex issues and to discuss concerns with citizens and others.

The County’s website (www.osceola.org) will remain the County’s primary and predominant internet presence. Wherever possible, content posted to the County’s social media platforms will also be made available on the County's website. When appropriate, content posted by authorized county staff to the County’s social media accounts should contain hyperlinks directing users back to the County’s official website for in-depth information, forms, documents or online services necessary to conduct business with Osceola County.

County social media sites serve as a limited public forum and all content published is subject to monitoring. The County reserves the right to restrict, hide or remove any content that is deemed in violation of this policy or any applicable law. Any activity on the County’s social media accounts containing any of the following forms of content shall not be allowed and shall be removed as soon as possible:

  • Profane language or content that contains obscenity or material that appeals to the prurient interest
  • Comments not topically related to or out of context of the post being commented upon
  • Harassing and threatening comments
  • Defamatory, false, or misleading material
  • Content that promotes, fosters or perpetuates discrimination based on race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, marital status, veteran status, status about public assistance, national origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation
  • Content that promotes, endorses, or attacks political campaigns or candidates
  • Advertisements not authorized by the County or other solicitation of commerce
  • Content that contains personal identifying information or sensitive personal information
  • Illegal conduct or encouragement of illegal activity or incites or promotes violence
  • Information that may compromise the safety or security of the public or public systems
  • Content posted in violation of copyright, trademark, patent or any other legal ownership interest of any other party

Third party posts, comments, or interactions with County social media accounts which are not in compliance with Section 2.4 of this policy, will be removed. Any content removed based on this policy will be retained, including the time, date and identity of the poster when available, in accordance with public records laws.

Osceola County relinquishes any and all responsibility and liability for any materials posted by third parties on county social media accounts that are in violation of this policy, or any local, state, or federal law. 

3.0 Guidelines for Authorized Users

3.1 Standard Guidelines for Use

Social media posts and promotions made by the County must pertain to County news, County sponsored/partnered events or information from other local, state and/or federal government agencies only.

As part of the interactive approach to using social media, the County’s social media authorized users may follow, message, like, share and retweet posts that contain content that is relevant to the County’s mission.

The County’s authorized users will approach the use of social media tools as consistently as possible.

County staff members may post comments/replies without advance review or permission of County management. However, if staff members have concerns or desire advance review, they may request such from the County Manager or designee.

The County shall not post purposefully inaccurate information. If an inadvertent inaccuracy is posted, a correction will be published as soon as possible. At all times, authorized users shall use good judgment when posting. Employees must refrain from posts that may be interpreted as offensive, obscene, demeaning, or inflammatory as outlined in the County’s policies.

Authorized County employees shall not post sensitive, confidential or non-public information, and shall not post legal advice or information regarding ongoing litigation lawsuits or litigation.

At times, authorized county employees may determine other means/tools are more appropriate ways to respond to social media comments or may determine that it is best not to respond to a comment at all.

In general, individual complaints, concerns, or service requests will not be addressed via social media.

Authorized users shall not engage in back-and-forth conversation regarding topics that are complex, controversial, or otherwise sensitive. Authorized users, in consultation with the County Manager, will determine when an issue raised by others has reached a “critical mass” that requires a County response on the account.

A standard reply may be used to direct users with concerns related to sensitive or complex issues. This standard reply shall read something like:

“Osceola County is very interested in insights and concerns expressed here. However, complex topics typically are not effectively discussed in forums such as this. If you wish to voice your concerns further or obtain additional information, please contact ___________.”

All County employees, including authorized county staff of the County’s social media accounts, shall govern themselves in a professional manner that reflects positively on the County when using social media. Users should always focus on providing high-quality customer service and worthwhile information in a timely manner.

This Social Media Policy shall be revised as needed. Any interaction with Osceola County’s social media accounts shall constitute acceptance of this policy.

3.2 Creation of New Social Media Accounts for County Departments or Services

Any department or County service-related social networking site created must be approved in writing by the County Manager or designee before the account may be used publicly.

Nothing in this policy shall prohibit the Communications Office from reserving the account/screen name for the County and its departments on an unauthorized social media platform to prevent false representation by others.

For continuity of overall operations, the Communications Office shall be made an account administrator or be provided account or page credentials/access for all social networking sites used by any County department.

4.0 Approved Social Media Platforms

Osceola County shall only use the following social media and multimedia platforms:

  • Facebook 
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • NextDoor
  • Vimeo
  • YouTube