Don't treat Facebook or Twitter like a 'chat down the pub', councillors are told

Redditch Advertiser: Sally Bercow, the speaker's wife Sally Bercow, the speaker's wife

COUNCILLORS in Worcestershire are being warned over their use of Facebook and Twitter - after hearing of the dangers of treating it like "a chat in the pub".

Worcestershire County Council is planning to stage an in-house seminar for all its politicians following an unprecedented explosion in the popularity of social media.

It will focus on using tools like Facebook to connect with voters - and how to avoid the pitfalls they could so easily fall into.

During a meeting to debate it at County Hall, examples were highlighted such as Sally Bercow, the wife of commons speaker John Bercow, who was sued for £50,000 libel after she used a tweet to link a former Conservative politician to false child abuse allegations.

After Lord McAlpine was wrongly implicated, he secured the payout and donated it to BBC Children In Need.

During a meeting of the county council's standards and ethics committee, councillors said the dangers are ever-present.

Councillor Joe Baker said: "Many years ago I worked in the Ministry of Justice as a high-security prison officer , and there were so many do's and do nots over social media, what you put on Facebook and so on.

"A lot of it is just common sense. A single statement about a person or a group can be scrutinised by thousands, so you've got to be careful."

Councillor Ken Pollock cited the example of Sally Bercow, and said public figures need to be "horribly aware" of the legal positions they could end up in.

"My daughter wrote something that Jeremy Clarkson re-tweeted, and he's got three millions followers," he said.

"You've got to assume that anything you write could go anywhere, it could end up in the newspapers, the front page of the Daily Mail."

Simon Mallinson, the council's legal chief, said: "When you're on social media it's not like a chat down the pub.

"It's in the public domain, people can see it anywhere."

Rachel Brown, marketing and communications officer at the council, said: "There are an awful lot of residents who are using social media a lot, if you aren't using it you are missing out on a really good way of communicating with them."

After a request from Councillor Derek Prodger, a seminar will take place around how to use social media.

Dozens of councillors in Worcestershire and all six MPs routinely use both Twitter and Facebook to connect with the public.

Comments (14)

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1:05pm Wed 7 May 14

CJH says...

They are not children. They shouldn't have to be told. What on earth does it say about the quality of our elected representatives?
They are not children. They shouldn't have to be told. What on earth does it say about the quality of our elected representatives? CJH
  • Score: 14

1:14pm Wed 7 May 14

New Kid on the Block says...

CJH wrote:
They are not children. They shouldn't have to be told. What on earth does it say about the quality of our elected representatives?
Why do they have to be told not to play computer games in meetings?
They seem to behave like children so perhaps they need to be treated like children.
[quote][p][bold]CJH[/bold] wrote: They are not children. They shouldn't have to be told. What on earth does it say about the quality of our elected representatives?[/p][/quote]Why do they have to be told not to play computer games in meetings? They seem to behave like children so perhaps they need to be treated like children. New Kid on the Block
  • Score: 12

1:56pm Wed 7 May 14

CJH says...

New Kid on the Block wrote:
CJH wrote:
They are not children. They shouldn't have to be told. What on earth does it say about the quality of our elected representatives?
Why do they have to be told not to play computer games in meetings?
They seem to behave like children so perhaps they need to be treated like children.
Actually, we might be better off with children making the decisions...
[quote][p][bold]New Kid on the Block[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]CJH[/bold] wrote: They are not children. They shouldn't have to be told. What on earth does it say about the quality of our elected representatives?[/p][/quote]Why do they have to be told not to play computer games in meetings? They seem to behave like children so perhaps they need to be treated like children.[/p][/quote]Actually, we might be better off with children making the decisions... CJH
  • Score: 7

2:18pm Wed 7 May 14

saucerer says...

That councillors need to be warned about the basics of behaviour and etiquette speaks volumes about their standards and attitudes. Were this the private sector, disciplinary procedures would have happened. But as ever, people working at the council have a totally different approach to work .
That councillors need to be warned about the basics of behaviour and etiquette speaks volumes about their standards and attitudes. Were this the private sector, disciplinary procedures would have happened. But as ever, people working at the council have a totally different approach to work . saucerer
  • Score: -2

3:15pm Wed 7 May 14

Karl Hunderson says...

saucerer wrote:
That councillors need to be warned about the basics of behaviour and etiquette speaks volumes about their standards and attitudes. Were this the private sector, disciplinary procedures would have happened. But as ever, people working at the council have a totally different approach to work .
Agreed with your first sentence but how will a private sector democracy work?
[quote][p][bold]saucerer[/bold] wrote: That councillors need to be warned about the basics of behaviour and etiquette speaks volumes about their standards and attitudes. Were this the private sector, disciplinary procedures would have happened. But as ever, people working at the council have a totally different approach to work .[/p][/quote]Agreed with your first sentence but how will a private sector democracy work? Karl Hunderson
  • Score: 8

5:23pm Wed 7 May 14

New Kid on the Block says...

saucerer wrote:
That councillors need to be warned about the basics of behaviour and etiquette speaks volumes about their standards and attitudes. Were this the private sector, disciplinary procedures would have happened. But as ever, people working at the council have a totally different approach to work .
I would not tar all those working at the council with the same brush.
I used to work for the council and there were many very good people working there. Unfortunately as you looked higher up the ladder it became more likely that you would find an arrogant uncaring person. These people were also becoming more common as time progressed.
I am now glad that I no longer work there. As time went on County Hall changed from a fairly pleasant place to work into an unpleasant and increasingly crowded one. With the numbers now working there it must be thoroughly overcrowded and unpleasant.
[quote][p][bold]saucerer[/bold] wrote: That councillors need to be warned about the basics of behaviour and etiquette speaks volumes about their standards and attitudes. Were this the private sector, disciplinary procedures would have happened. But as ever, people working at the council have a totally different approach to work .[/p][/quote]I would not tar all those working at the council with the same brush. I used to work for the council and there were many very good people working there. Unfortunately as you looked higher up the ladder it became more likely that you would find an arrogant uncaring person. These people were also becoming more common as time progressed. I am now glad that I no longer work there. As time went on County Hall changed from a fairly pleasant place to work into an unpleasant and increasingly crowded one. With the numbers now working there it must be thoroughly overcrowded and unpleasant. New Kid on the Block
  • Score: 7

6:44pm Wed 7 May 14

pinkfluff says...

CJH wrote:
They are not children. They shouldn't have to be told. What on earth does it say about the quality of our elected representatives?
Totally agree. I find it an embarrassment that some of these people need to be told how to behave.
[quote][p][bold]CJH[/bold] wrote: They are not children. They shouldn't have to be told. What on earth does it say about the quality of our elected representatives?[/p][/quote]Totally agree. I find it an embarrassment that some of these people need to be told how to behave. pinkfluff
  • Score: 5

9:21pm Wed 7 May 14

3thinker says...

Obviously not a message UKIP is putting over strongly enough to its candidates.
There's even been a post on WN where one of their local members excused some of the more bigoted comments as merely jokes between friends.
Certainly not the sort of friends I and I assume many WN readers would like to have.
Obviously not a message UKIP is putting over strongly enough to its candidates. There's even been a post on WN where one of their local members excused some of the more bigoted comments as merely jokes between friends. Certainly not the sort of friends I and I assume many WN readers would like to have. 3thinker
  • Score: 3

1:29am Thu 8 May 14

Jabbadad says...

I am surprised and dissapointed by the use of phones etc by the Councillors both county and City, since in the majority of meetings that I attend we are requested to make sure all phones are switched off, but frequently someone has a vibrating signal in and pops out to take the call.
I think that perhaps twice in many years my phone which is always on quiet ring and vibrate has gone off, and this has been because I forgot to turn it off, and not because I wanted to be seen as an important person who just has to be reached.
I am surprised and dissapointed by the use of phones etc by the Councillors both county and City, since in the majority of meetings that I attend we are requested to make sure all phones are switched off, but frequently someone has a vibrating signal in and pops out to take the call. I think that perhaps twice in many years my phone which is always on quiet ring and vibrate has gone off, and this has been because I forgot to turn it off, and not because I wanted to be seen as an important person who just has to be reached. Jabbadad
  • Score: 4

3:21pm Thu 8 May 14

brooksider says...

Good to see Derek Prodger wasting taxpayers money again.
iPads?
This lot will never learn.
Good to see Derek Prodger wasting taxpayers money again. iPads? This lot will never learn. brooksider
  • Score: 0

7:13am Fri 9 May 14

green49 says...

After a request from Councillor Derek Prodger, a seminar will take place around how to use social media.

Another waste of taxpayers money, hes so good at it.
After a request from Councillor Derek Prodger, a seminar will take place around how to use social media. Another waste of taxpayers money, hes so good at it. green49
  • Score: 0

9:35am Fri 9 May 14

themooman says...

good use of funds from prodger - if you dont know you cant be expected to know.
good use of funds from prodger - if you dont know you cant be expected to know. themooman
  • Score: -2

10:34am Sat 10 May 14

poontangy says...

CJH wrote:
They are not children. They shouldn't have to be told. What on earth does it say about the quality of our elected representatives?
Get a life for the love of God
[quote][p][bold]CJH[/bold] wrote: They are not children. They shouldn't have to be told. What on earth does it say about the quality of our elected representatives?[/p][/quote]Get a life for the love of God poontangy
  • Score: -6

12:24pm Sat 10 May 14

Jabbadad says...

I understand that when our councillors were invited to take an oath to put the needs / concerns of the voters before party politics, as they do in Warwickshire, they declined.
So-we-have-what-we-h
ave. It's like gazing through the windows at M&S then having to use Poundland.
And yes I do use Poundland.
I understand that when our councillors were invited to take an oath to put the needs / concerns of the voters before party politics, as they do in Warwickshire, they declined. So-we-have-what-we-h ave. It's like gazing through the windows at M&S then having to use Poundland. And yes I do use Poundland. Jabbadad
  • Score: 0

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