Social media was the focus of a recent discussion among Buffalo Grove officials who are working to create a new policy governing how the village communicates with the community.
The village does not run any social media accounts, but volunteers involved with some Buffalo Grove-funded committees use the technology to promote their events. Some village leaders say it’s time for the village to put some restrictions in place.
“It’s a reflection of us,” said Village President Jeff Braiman, who wondered why social media accounts were created for the Buffalo Grove farmers market and Buffalo Grove Days without the village’s knowledge. Volunteers who serve on village committees run both events.
The farmers market began its Facebook page in 2010, and Buffalo Grove Days followed suit in 2011. Both committees are also active on Twitter.
“We either need to have guidance for [social media accounts], or we shouldn’t have them,” said Village Manager Dane Bragg. He recommended in a memo “that all village communications resources be utilized in a deliberate, centralized and standardized fashion.”
A proposed communications policy presented to trustees states, in part:
"The office of the Village Manager will monitor social media use and must review and approve all content prior to posting. Content will be reviewed for appropriateness, quality, consistency with overall Village message and branding, priority, goals, etc."
It also states that “content posted to Village of Buffalo Grove social media sites will be available on the Village's main website. Any information posted on social media pages will first be placed on the Village website and on the Village calendar.”
The social media guidelines, which would also apply to any social media accounts created in the future, continue for about two-and-half pages. They are part of a broader communications policy that also addresses the village’s use of its e-newsletter, print newsletter, local access cable channel, website and mobile app.
Trustee Jeff Berman said constitutional issues can arise from any medium that allows public access.
Volunteers running social media accounts on behalf of the village must be given “very clear guidelines,” he said, “because otherwise you’re going to get a lawsuit.”
But, Berman added, the volunteers running the existing accounts should not be attacked.
“I’m not attacking them. I only think it would have been appropriate for them to come to us,” Braiman replied.
Officials also raised questions about how social media use plays into the Freedom of Information Act, which allows public access to government information.
“I would suggest that you not delete anything,” said Village Attorney Jeff Stein. “Once you open that forum, you open it to everybody.”
The village staff will seek further input from its lawyers before asking trustees to adopt a social media policy, Bragg said.