Saturday, November 1, 2008

Is Social Media Safe for Government Organizations?

Recently, I've been interviewing government public affairs practioners to discuss the use of social media. There are unique concerns that government agencies face regarding privacy policies, communication laws and relationships with their constituents. One of the main reasons public agencies hesitate to participate in social media is fear of the unknown - there is a lack of research addressing how communication laws apply to social media platforms.

For my presentation in Advanced PR Writing, I've been trying to uncover some of the main risks that government agencies should overcome in order to safely participate in social media. So far, I've found that there are three main communication laws that organizations should be aware of in order to safeguard themselves:

1. Copyright Infringement - Agencies should follow the same copyright laws that they would for other publications and pay special attention to crediting sources and observing copyright laws for posting photos and information from other blogs and Web sites.

2. Privacy Policy - In order to ensure that the private information of an organization's constituents is not illegally disclosed, agencies should monitor the conversation and moderate comments, posts and information when necessary.

3. Defamation of Character - Due to the nature of blogs and social media platforms that allow the posting of photos and comments, government organizations must rely upon moderation and monitoring to avoid incidents of libel and slander.

Check out my slideshare presentation below to see a visual interpretation of this information:

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