Boulder County: Taking the "social" out of "social media"

The Boulder Daily Camera reported today that Boulder County has installed rules covering the use of social media by employees (CBS4 Denver also blogged about it). The gist of the rules seems to be requiring permission from a department head to post anything to Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Really? Boulder County department heads don't have anything better to do than approve employees' tweets?

Seriously, if you require the approval of a department head to post anything to social media, why bother using it at all? Or at very least, shouldn't said head be the sole person who has access to it anyway, if that's the way it needs to be? It doesn't take much longer to post than it does to ask permission to post, especially when you're talking about Twitter.

Admittedly, some of the other rules seem like common sense: keep official social-media use narrowly focused on county business, develop departmental plans on how and why to use social media, don't mix county business with personal. That makes sense, especially the last one. No one wants to read "Boulder County schools will be closed today, and OMG, I met the CUTEST guy yesterday!" But most of that is simple common sense, and could probably be addressed with a simple statement of "Try not to be stupid on the Internets while working."

The big showstopper of the story is this:

The county has also disabled commenting on its Facebook page, because it can't control what people post on it.

Halpin said the county doesn't want to censor public discussion, but, "We also don't want people putting up some salacious advertisement on there."

Hello, miss the point of social media much? The whole reason to use Facebook, Twitter, et al is to facilitate two-way communication (or at least to foster the illusion of it). Locking your users (tax-paying citizens, in this case ...) out of that seems to defeat the purpose. Why use it at all? Why not just use a static website, or even stick to the old-fashioned "issue a press release" practices of yore? Sure, spam comments are annoying, but there are tools to deal with that (hell, use an intern to moderate them if you have to). And seriously, even though the "Erotic Services" have been removed from Craigslist, is anyone really going to use the Boulder County Facebook fan page to post their "salacious advertisements"? Seem pretty far-fetched to me ...

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Cory Casciato is a Denver-based writer with a passion for the geeky, from old science fiction movies to brand-new video games.
Contact: Cory Casciato