Australia: Mosman Council Twitter Guidelines


Quite a different slant from the 40 Social Media Guidelines for Staff, here are Mosman Council laying out their guidelinesOpens in a new tab. for following @mosmancouncilOpens in a new tab. on Twitter: 

Stop following me!

If @mosmancouncil is following you and you’d rather we didn’t, please feel free to block us.

Be aware that Twitter is a public space on the internet and all interaction is publicly viewable and searchable over time.

If you want to keep your Twitter channel private, you can protect your updates.

For further assistance go to http://help.twitter.com

More of the Twitter GuidelinesOpens in a new tab.

On one hand I’m thinking “WTF? A council trying to control the discussion on a 3rd party site?” On the other hand, it’s not their fault, it’s the mess we’ve got ourselves into with lawyers and courts and such. They’ve really bent over backward to be helpful and contactable to their constituents. Bless. 

And Bless meta-gov guru,  Steven CornishOpens in a new tab. (@steven_cornishOpens in a new tab.) for bringing the guidelines to my attentionOpens in a new tab.. 🙂

So, what do you think? Will we see more companies pumping out How To Engage with Us Online policies? Would anyone even have found them if Steven hadn’t told me? @MosmanCouncil bio on Twitter points to the home page, not the guidelines. Are they legally covered (in reality) or is this just a feelgood exercise for nervous nellies in the Council itself? 

I remember the days when Telstra had a DO NOT LINK TO US on the bottom of every webpage. Their webpages were their copyright material and linking to them broke copyright. Apparently. Heh.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

17 thoughts on “Australia: Mosman Council Twitter Guidelines

  1. I don’t think there’s anything inherently bad with pointing out how Twitter works. (Indeed sometimes I have to remind people that they can unfollow me if they want to. People seem to forget.)

    Telstra’s linking policy reminds me of suggestions from Sanford and Brown to ‘save journalism.’ Proposed measures include (ahem) not allowing newspaper websites be listed in search engines without a fee of some description…

    Yes, good luck with that Washington Post.

    John Lacey’s last blog post..What Does The Search Engine See?

  2. totally see your point but they’ve got to start somewhere and I give kudos to them for dipping their toes in the water. can imagine the red tape and convincing they had to do internally to get it up and running.

  3. I see it commendable that they are saying this and giving the option although it seems over the top.

    And I think PRs might extend that idea to blogs by asking bloggers if they would like to opt in to email communications as good practice rather than mindlessly send stuff that may not be wanted.

  4. Totally agree guys, hence my line They’ve really bent over backward to be helpful and contactable to their constituents. Bless.
    I’m not dissing them, just asking if everyone should go to such lengths… mosmancouncil themselves said it was due to a lot of questions from people. So maybe yes?

  5. Like all government entities they need to have communications open with their constituents (especially elected ones) and by having a presence (though within business hrs only *g*) on twitter they are empowering both the residents of Mosman and the council with another semi instant form of communication.

    Reading between the lines on the posted guidelines however they have two conflicting statements.

    On one hand they are saying that “we consider a Twitter conversation to be analogous to a telephone conversation” and on the other are stating that “[Formal] Correspondence’ means communications written, faxed or emailed that includes your proper name and address. Direct messages from Twitter are not considered as correspondence.”

    A telephone conversation between council staff and a resident where the staff gives advise or information IS absolutely a formal correspondence with all the legal ramifications that go with that. Especially since a telephone conversation can be recorded “for legal purposes” by either party under NSW law. Twitter conversations themselves are also saved (though only for a specific timeframe).

    The Council is trying to limit liability on twitter and other social networks (which is not a bad thing) though realistically they need to give the same professionalism, ethical conduct, and candour as they would in a written letter format.

    This comes back to something I was discussing with a few tax solicitors the other day. If Business is conducted over twitter are the tweets considered business records and need to be kept for 7yrs etc the same way as emails and other business correspondence is? The answer was “Ummmmmmm yeah… but.. ummmm ” *s*

  6. I must say I don’t think there’s a lot of point to having a policy and then hiding it. And “Mosman Council disclaims all responsibility for any loss or damage which may arise from the use of this channel”? I’d like to see them try to make that stick. No really, that would be fun to watch.

    I interact with clients via email, facebook, messenger and twitter but I have a particular problem with sms instructions from clients. I can’t print them out or save them to my document management system. So – write a file note recording the sms? That gives it the same status as a phone call.

    Because I should keep a record of anything that I might have to disclose in legal proceedings later, right?

  7. Who cares about the semantics? What I see is a proactive attempt by a Local Government to engage with and use social media. It’s a giant step forward from some of the conversations I have with LG people on my workshops who shudder and attempt the proverbial head up arse trick whenever the concept of open communication is mentioned.

    Trying to control or stop the flow of information in the face of the emerging environment is pointless. If it isn’t Facebook or Twitter it will be something else. Trying to avoid using these channels or preventing others from using them is like trying to build a sand sculpture on a sand dune.

    I applaud Mosman CC and every other organisation regardless of its structure that has a crack at working with the emerging media rather than constantly trying to stick their fingers in the dyke during a flood.

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