COUNCIL staff are to be told to watch how they behave online as authority bosses get set to introduce a social media policy.

This comes after an investigation into the council’s social media use found updating its protocol was a ‘priority one red action’.

Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) does not currently have a ‘cohesive’ social media policy but councillors are set to approve its first version of the strategy in the coming days.

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A BFC report read: “Whilst the council recognises staff are entitled to their own opinions and should be ambassadors and tell the council’s story, especially on professional channels like LinkedIn, it also recognises that whatever they say and do online could have ramifications for the organisation, community and them personally.”

Staff who break the policy could face disciplinary action, according to the report.

The policy gives staff advice on how they should use social media in a personal, professional and corporate capacity.

Those using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more are told not to ‘friend’ vulnerable clients, not to post sensitive information or information which could bring the council into disrepute, and that it is important to remain politically neutral.

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Professional users are told using social media can be “beneficial” on sites like LinkedIn, where staff should conduct themselves in a “credible, cordial, accurate, fair and transparent” manner.

In-house training is required before employees can use corporate accounts, and council department heads must demonstrate it makes business sense to create a service-led social media account before they can do so.

Rules around replying to members of the public on social media ask staff to “have a strategy for responding”.

The advice reads: “Be selective, especially with people disliking something or a seemingly making a joke – consider if they want you to respond and if so, how best to. Where important facts are wrong, correct them without getting drawn into debate.”

Facebook community group We Love Bracknell is mentioned in the new policy – according to the set of rules, the group’s administrator’s have agreed to work with BFC’s safeguarding teams to make sure vulnerable adults and children are looked after where relevant posts are made.

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Councillors on BFC’s employment committee are set to agree to the new policy at a meeting on Wednesday, July 10.