Social Media Policy

Table Of Contents


Summary

All official or Department-specific communication by Members to public media outlets (Newspapers, Radio, Television, Social Media, etc.) is authorized exclusively by the Chief, Assistant Chief, VFD Board President, or Public Information Officer. This includes, but is not limited to, communication regarding VFD organizational issues, events, and incident details.

When Members communicate as individuals on non-VFD matters, it will reflect directly on the Department and subsequently the potential for donations, volunteering, and community goodwill. Any such communication that results in potential or realized damage to the Department will be reviewed by the Board of Directors for appropriate action.

Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action as defined in the Department By-Laws, up to and including dismissal for cause.
Details

Purpose

The Sunrise Beach Volunteer Fire Department recognizes the role that social media and other forms of online presence (hereafter “social media”) plays in the personal lives of some members. As such, this policy provides guidance of a precautionary nature, and restrictions and prohibitions on the use of such technology by members of the Department, whether on or off duty, and regardless of the ownership of the device with which the information is being captured and/or shared.

Background

The Department endorses the use of social media to enhance communication, collaboration, and information exchange; streamline processes; foster productivity; and inform our citizens and supporters. This policy establishes the Department’s position on the use and management of social media. This policy is not meant to address one form of social media but rather any online presence in general. This policy is not meant to inhibit the First Amendment rights of any member of the Department acting as a private citizen in accordance with the applicable state and federal court decisions.

Social media provides a new and valuable means of assisting the Department and its members in meeting community outreach, problem-solving, investigation, recruitment, fire prevention, and related organizational and community objectives.

Terminology

The environment of social media is constantly changing as new technology and uses are developed. This policy is meant to include, but not be limited to, any social media interaction, such as “Post,” “Profile,” “Comment,” etc., and does not exclude any future social media interactions/terminology that may not yet be defined.

Social media that is not department sanctioned is considered personal use, and each individual is personally responsible – and potentially liable – for anything that is posted.

“Authorization” as used throughout this policy document will refer to those members of the Department and other individuals specifically designated by the Board of Directors as having permission to approve or reject communications covered herein.

Policy

Violation

Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action as defined in the Department By-Laws, up to and including dismissal for cause.

Personal Use

  1. Members are cautioned that speech on or off duty, made pursuant to their official duties — that is, that owes its existence to the members’ fire department related duties and responsibilities — may not necessarily be protected speech under the First Amendment and may form the basis for discipline if deemed detrimental to the Department. Members should assume that their speech
    and related activity on social media will reflect upon the Department and their position within the Department.
  2. Members are not restricted from using social media as private citizens or for personal matters, so long as their use does not impair working relationships of the Department for which loyalty and confidentiality are important, impede the performance of duties, or impair discipline and harmony among the members. The goal is to avoid negatively affecting the public perception of the Department.
  3. Members should not make any statements, speeches, appearances, or endorsements that could reasonably be considered to represent the views or positions of the Department without express authorization.
  4. Members should refrain from any public speculation as to the cause of any incident, the individuals who may or may not be involved, or the manner in which such incidents were managed.
  5. Members may not post, transmit, or disseminate any photographs, video or other recordings obtained or accessible because of membership with the Department without authorization.

Authorized Department Use

  1. Authorized Department social media sites or pages shall be approved in advance by the Board of Directors or designee.
  2. Social media pages shall clearly indicate they are maintained by the Department and shall have Department contact information prominently displayed.
  3. Department social media pages will include information authorized as relevant and necessary, but at a minimum should include:
    • An introductory statement that clearly specifies the purpose and scope of the Department’s presence on the website.
    • Information that is designed for the target audience(s) such as the community, civil leadership, members, and/or potential job candidates.
  4. Department social media pages should state that the opinions expressed by visitors to the page(s) do not reflect the opinions of the Sunrise Beach Volunteer Fire Department.
    • Pages shall clearly indicate that posted comments will be monitored and that the Department reserves the right to remove obscenities, off-topic comments, personal attacks or any other comments as they see fit.
    • Pages shall clearly indicate that any content posted or submitted for posting is subject to public disclosure.
  5. Under no circumstances will photo images, video, or audio of any patients or their identifiers be posted online without their permission.
  6. Personnel representing the Department via social media outlets (regardless of whether those outlets are personal or Department accounts) will be held responsible and accountable, and shall do the following:
    • Conduct themselves at all times as representatives of the Department and, accordingly, shall adhere to all Department standards of conduct and observe conventionally accepted protocols and proper decorum.
    • Identify themselves as a member of the Department.
    • Not make statements or comments concerning pending Sunrise Beach Volunteer Fire Department legal matters, nor post, transmit, or otherwise disseminate confidential information.
    • Not conduct political activities or private business.
  7. Additionally, Department personnel who serve as contributors have special access to Department social media accounts, and they will be held accountable and responsible for anything they post on those outlets.

Procedure

Members of the Department who wish to establish any official online presence representing the VFD must submit a formal request to the Board of Directors outlining the type of site or platform requested, its expected use, contributors, etc. Accounts may not be created in advance of the following process being completed first:

  1. The request is submitted to the Board for approval.
  2. Once approved, the Department’s Information Technology Coordinator will work with the member to create the account(s), ensure all relevant standards are met, and all required information is included.
  3. The Information Technology Coordinator will work hand in hand with the member to ensure the site remains appropriate, timely, and positively reflects the Department’s mission and brand.
  4. The Information Technology Coordinator will have manager/administrator status to all accounts, as well as change authority over all usernames and passwords given to contributors, and will provide copies of administrator credentials to the Board Secretary.
  5. If at any time content is deemed to not meet these standards, the Board of Directors or its designees will remove the content immediately.