I was interested to read the story last week about the number of police officers who have been disciplined in relation to the misuse of social media.
These stories crop up ever so often, either about the police, councils or other public bodies. I’ve seen a number of FOIs that hope to uncover some secret scandal about hundreds of public officials unable to control themselves as soon as they’re left in charge of a twitter account.
The truth is, some people say or do stupid or even offensive things sometimes. And where there is serious offence caused of course, it should be investigated – the same way as it would if it occurred offline. But these kinds of issues existed long before social media was invented – Facebook didn’t make this happen.
I was really pleased to then read this follow up piece in PR Week, which included the response from Amanda Coleman, Greater Manchester Police’s Director of Corporate Comms. It was particularly interesting to read this bit:
Amanda Coleman told PRWeek that just three of the 88 incidents investigated involved official police accounts and off-duty use was the main issue.
“The problems that arise are often in people’s personal use, where people will say and do things as they would while having a conversation down the pub. We have very few issues with staff trained to use social media at work.”
Often when I’m training people to use social media for work one of the things they ask is: “what if I say the wrong thing?” I just ask them whether they trust themselves to speak face to face with members of the public (of course they do) and then ask them why they would be saying something online that they wouldn’t say in person.