County adopts employee social media policy

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

Bonner County Commissioners unanimously approved a social media policy for all county employees and officials Tuesday. The new policy, headed by the county’s Human Resources department, will be added to the Bonner County Personnel Policy Manual. 

HR Risk Management Director Cindy Binkerd said Tuesday that the policy has been in the works since summer 2017, due to suggestions from the county’s risk carrier and legal council. Binkerd said the policy has seen several drafts.

Commissioner Glen Bailey said the policy is in response to possible conflicts of interest with county employees being vocal about county information on their personal accounts.

“With the prevalence of social media — everyone is using it, so it was important for us to come up with a policy because people were Facebooking … and using their position as a Bonner County employee,” Bailey said. “We needed to clarify proper guidelines and use… so at least they know what the county’s position is legally.”

The policy is a three-page list of bullet points requiring employees to refrain from sharing explicit or discriminatory content online. It also states county employees should not disseminate information gained solely through their employment without authorization from their department, and suggests they include a disclosure on personal profiles such as, “The views expressed on this (blog, website) are my own and do not reflect the opinions of Bonner County.”

Mike Brown with Blue Sky Broadcasting pointed out one portion of the policy, asking if it raised any “red flags” during the drafting process. The portion reads, “Employees are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media sites to the degree that their speech does not impair working relationships of the County and its Elected Officials … or negatively affect the public perception of the County.” Brown said he wondered if any department heads had expressed concern about the last line in particular.

“Nobody has commented,” Bailey said.

Binkerd said the new policy will be posted to the county’s website as soon as possible.

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