Go to the City of Manteca Facebook site and this is what you see:
uPostings praising the use of marijuana.
uA photo of a person with their face in the crotch of a cat.
uSeveral postings complaining that the Union Road sewer repairs haven’t been finished.
uA posting for a tree service.
uTwo out-of-the-area postings slamming the city’s homeless efforts.
uA posting that a city street sweeper reportedly sideswiped a parked car.
The postings are legitimate and so is the site. The only problem is that it is not the City of Manteca’s site.
That is just one of the issues city leaders will have to deal with as they move forward with plans to establish a social media presence.
The City Council last week blessed a plan to have city staff deploy social media and adopted a social media policy for the city. They also established a social media committee that will consist of two council members — Gary Singh and Richard Silverman — working with city staff for a six-month term to address various issues.
Singh and other council members noted that in the confusion over mandatory evacuations issued last week regarding a levee breach south of Manteca that a lot of misinformation and rumors circulated including the incorrect statements that residents within the city were being ordered to flee.
Singh believed if the city had a presence on social media such as Facebook and Twitter that residents will have had a reliable source to reference in a future emergency.
The city actually does have a social media site that does that to a degree — the Manteca Police Department Nixle account. It sends out alerts but only to those who have signed up for the service. The Nixle alert stressed that no one within the city limits was under an evacuation order.
In the past year Nixel has been used to alert people about chemical spills, missing persons with dementia and provide advisories about personal safety and the city cooling centers being open during heat waves.
The city’s Facebook policy as adopted states, “official City of Manteca Facebook page (is being) created to inform the public about the latest news, activities, programs, projects, and events happening in the City and is intended to serve as a means of communication between the City and the public. Comments posted to this site will be monitored during regular City business hours only. This site shall not contain any of the following, and the City reserves the right to remove comments containing any of the following elements as soon as possible:
uComments that are not topically related to the particular posting being commented upon;
uProfane language or content;
uContent that promotes, fosters, or perpetuates discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, marital status, national origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation;
uSexual content or links to sexual content;
uContent that threatens or defames any person or organization;
uComments in support of or opposition to political campaigns or ballot measures;
uContent that solicits or promotes commercial services or products;
uContent that engages in or encourages illegal activity;
uInformation that may compromise the safety or security of the public, public systems, or employees; or
uContent that violates a legal ownership interest of another party.
And while the policy makes is clear there will be paid staff monitoring during regular business hours anything posted between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m., every other Friday and weekends will remain up regardless whether it violates city social media policy until a work day rolls around. The policy addresses that by saying you can’t hold the city liable for any inappropriate posting that cannot be removed in an expeditious and “otherwise timely manner.”
As for city postings, the policy requires “all of the content of City social media sites must be provided to the City Manager’s Office for review, approval and subsequent posting to the social media site.”
The primary source of Internet communication with the public will be the city’s official website at www.ci.manteca.ca.us. Social media is being deployed to only provide at alternative or additional communication channel. Once established they will bear the name and/or official seal of the City of Manteca. The non-city approved City of Manteca Facebook site that is now active has the city’s name and a photo of a house and the old water tower on Wetmore Street.
City Council members as well as those serving on commissions will barred from responding to published postings or to communicate in any form on any subject within the jurisdiction of the City Council to avoid it being construed as a serial meeting which is illegal under the state’s Ralph M. Brown Act.
In addition all postings — include those that are deleted — will be sent to an official city email account and maintained consistent with the Public Records Act.
The policy also concedes the city’s social media sites may contain content such as advertisements and hyperlinks to products or sites the city has no control over. There is no implied endorsement by the city.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org