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City of Altoona Social Media Guidelines

City of Altoona Social Media Guidelines

Social Media Guidelines

1.      PURPOSE

The goal of technology in the workplace is constantly changing and currently includes social media communication tools that facilitate interactive information sharing.  Commonly used social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Blogger, Ning, Linkedln, etc. are an increasingly important outreach and communication tools for government entities.  These guidelines are not meant to address one particular form of social media, rather social media in general, as technology will inevitably change and new tools will emerge.

All department communication tools should be used in way that maximize transparency, maintain the security of the network, and are appropriate and professional.  Social media is no exception.  Regardless of the social media used, the purpose is to communicate information to the public, and where requested by the City, to receive the public’s feedback and comments on specific topics of importance to the City.  The does not, by using any form of social media, intend to establish an unlimited public forum in which persons are free to post comments or opinions.  The City must retain control over the content of its pages, including comments and postings by members of the public.

In addition, social media users should be aware that these types of communications are considered public records and, consequently, must be handled in compliance with the Iowa Code Chapter 22 Public Records law.  These guidelines are intended to ensure the City departments’ social media sites are secure and appropriately used and managed by outlining “best practices” for the use of social media in the City of Altoona government.  Thus, the suggestions provided in these guidelines are designed to protect city employees and ensure consistency across departments when incorporating social media into their mission.


All use of social media sites by city departments should be consistent with applicable city, federal, and state laws, regulations, and policies including all information technology security policies.  This includes the departments and citywide acceptable use policies, procedures, standards, or guidelines.  All usage should be governed by these policies as well as the guidelines in this document.

Separate Personal and Professional Accounts:

Official City social media sites are to be used solely for the purpose of City business and will not be used for personal gain.  Any comment posted by the site’s administrators is the official view of the employee in his or her professional role.

Role of the Social Media Site Administrator:

All department-related communication through social media outlets should remain professional in nature and should always be conducted in accordance with the department’s communications policy and practices.

Employees using social media to communicate on behalf of a City department will be making comments on behalf of city government: therefore, employees should use discretion before posting or commenting.  Once these comments or posts are made they can be seen by anyone and may not be able to be “taken back.”

Employees shall always consider whether it is appropriate to post an opinion, commit oneself or one’s department to a course of action, or discuss areas outside of one’s expertise. If there is any question or hesitation regarding the content of a potential comment or post, it is better not to post.

There should be great care given to screening any communication made on behalf of the department using social media as inappropriate usage of City-related social media can be grounds for disciplinary action.

Content of Posts:

  • Employees are prohibited from using City social media sites for an of the following:
  • For any political purposes.
  • To conduct private commercial transactions or to engage in private business activities.
  • Endorsement or recommendation of any private business.
  • Posting of personal commentary on City policy.

Additionally, the following communications are prohibited:

  • Include any form of profanity or obscenity.
  • Involve posting of copyrighted content without the copyright holder’s express permission.
  • Contain confidential or non-public information.

If an account is used for City purposes, the entire account, regardless of any personal views, is subject to these best practices guidelines, including the open records provisions.

Terms of Use:

Terms of Use regulate user comments and use of social media site.  It is important that the City not inadvertently create or allow the creation of an unlimited public forum for the public to post comments of any kind.  The intention of the City’s social media sites is to enhance communication with the public about city programs, events and to timely communicate city news.


Communication through department-related social media should be considered a public record under Iowa Code Chapter 22, Open Records and will be managed as such.

  • All comments or posts made to city department account walls or pages are public, not private.
  • In the spirit of transparency in city government, account administrators who receive messages through the private message service offered by the social media site should encourage users to contact them at a public e-mail address maintained by their department.  For private messages that account administrators do receive, they should be treated as constituent e-mails and therefore, as public records.  Account administrators or another authorized staff member should reply using their city e-mail account.
  • Departments should set all privacy settings to “public”.


The City of Altoona [Insert Social Media site] page is produced and maintained by the City of Altoona.  Links to other internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

The City of Altoona

  • Does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information contained on a linked website.
  • Does not endorse the organizations sponsoring linked websites or the views the express or the products/services they offer.
  • Cannot and does not authorize the use of copyrighted materials contained in linked websites.  Users must request such authorization from the sponsor of the linked website.
  • Does not guarantee that external websites comply with Section 508 (Accessibility Requirements) of the Rehabilitation Act.
  • Does not endorse or support opinions or views expressed by users of the City of Altoona [Insert Social Media site] page.
  • Is not directed to children and will delete any information about a child under the age of 13 that may have been inadvertently collected upon becoming aware of such information.
  • The Iowa Open Records Act applies to records to the City so that content on this site which is kept as a record of the City is subject to public disclosure requirements.

Terms of Use:

The City of Altoona expects that participants will treat each other with respect.

  • The use of vulgar, offensive, defamatory, disparaging, derogatory, sexual, threatening or harassing language is prohibited.
  • The City of Altoona [Insert Social Media site] page is not open to the promotion or advertisement of a business or commercial transaction.
  • Users are prohibited from posting any copyrighted content without the copyright holder’s express permission or material protected by other intellectual property laws.
  • The City of Altoona, Iowa, does not intend to create a public forum on this site or any City of Altoona social media site.  This site is not for use by the public as a place for expressive activity.  Users are prohibited from the posting of abusive and profane comments, and from content relating to politics, religion, supporting or opposing political candidates or issue advocacy, promoting illegal activity, or which is not topically related to the City’s particular request for public feedback.
  • The City reserves the right to eliminate comments/postings entirely or to edit them if deemed in violation of this policy or any applicable law.
  • Contact info@altoona-iowa.com or call 515-967-5136 in order to report the posting of materials infringing a third party’s intellectual property rights, identifying information about children, or other illegal materials or contents.