By Kellen M. Quigley

The Village of Springville Board of Trustees is making the voice of the village a little more official online with approval of a social media policy.
Mayor Bill Krebs updated the board on the Springville Local Government Media Policy, which he said was begun about two years ago.

“This is a social media policy that outlines how we operate our Facebook page,” he said. “It sets guidelines for our employees, and basically it says only designated employees to post anything on our Facebook page.”

Krebs said the various village departments, such as the police or DPW, cannot have their own social media pages, per the policy, because they are departments of the village and the village only has one official Facebook page.

“It regulates the type of content we put on it that pertains just to the village and official village business,” he said. “Especially during an emergency, getting accurate information out is so important, and this is one way we can do that.”

Krebs said the policy also has criteria for the village’s control of the comments that can be made by the public and if the village can delete those comments.

“It has a whole list of things under the prohibited content section, such as defamatory attacks and threats to persons or organizations,” he said.
Krebs said the village will also stay in compliance with other laws regarding social media.

Village trustee Alan Chamberlain asked if the policy had a clear definition of “social media,” saying the village is using it in terms of Facebook.
Krebs said the language is in the policy and does cover the village legally, but it is also not too specific.

“I saw this as a policy guiding us for right now, but we also have Code Red and because of our municipal standing we’re involved in New York Alert,” he said. “When I think of emergency things, we push information that comes off of NITTEC, but those are all official types of functions.”

Although the village doesn’t have other social media accounts such as for Twitter or YouTube, Krebs said there is no reason why sometime in the future that the policy could be amended to include those if the village creates accounts for other social media.

“The intent here is that there are no other social media unless it’s board approved,” he said. “We were alerted to that danger where a superintendent of public works or police chief started their own Facebook and pushing out information that is not accurate or is self-serving to their own department.”

Trustee Nils Wikman said the policy is a good thing to make sure there aren’t a lot of off-shoots, noting that sports teams for some schools all have their own Facebook pages and can be unregulated.

Krebs said the other issue is the policy addresses is archival data, which is important if the village decides to delete an inappropriate comment.
“This policy says people can comment on our posts, but the other option is to lock down all comments and say the public can’t comment,” he said. “We decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea because when people can comment on it, you not only get feedback from residents but it helps push out information that might be very important.”

However, if someone violates the policy by posting vulgar or slanderous terms and the village decides to take it down, the comment is still archived.
“Just because you take it down doesn’t mean you throw it out,” he said. “It gets a little complicated, but I think we as a village are better serving our community by having a Facebook page, even though there are a lot of growing pains.”