Recently a comment was posted on a blog post regarding city employees access to social networking sites, by Keith McDonald a Communications Coordinator at the City of Toronto which details and answers many of the emailed questions  the blog received on subject. Below is the comment as posted .

City employees are able to access social media if they present a business case on how they need to use such sites. In the above example, members would outline how the interaction applies to their work. To date, staff making such cases have been granted access.

I suspect the staff in question are not aware of this. Communications around social media has started but not all staff are tuning into vehicles such as a Monday Morning News blast or the intranet. The City is actually well underway in preparing a policy on use of social media. On first brush, it may seem like a no brainer “turn it on” issue but when you begin to address legal obligations such as required data retrieval (even from sites that our not the City’s property e.g. Facebook, YouTube, etc), it is by no means straight forward. There are actually hundreds of issues at play.

Further to communications, City of Toronto staff are encouraged to partake in the internal social media blog: webbook – to discover more on how social media is entering the government and what is being done.

This is accessible through the City intranet site. Some of the webbook blogs, in particular those by the CIO, Dave Wallace and Deputy City Manager, Sue Corke are by no means taking an anti-social media view.

As for City employees being “disallowed from commenting regarding city issues in a public forum …”, this is not precise. The issue here is citing a personal opinion that may be construed as an official “City” opinion.

Again, the social media policy is addressing the particulars. I speak here as a member of the toronto.ca re:Brand team and not as an individual personally engaged in social media.

Should I want to comment personally I would need to clearly say this is my personal opinion and not that of the City of Toronto. It’s a clear distinction.

We are also looking to engage residents directly and hear their comments about the web and our relationships with you. I am not sure I can make active links in responses so I will err on this not being allowed. But, we encourage anyone who has something to say about toronto.ca and web interactions to participate with us. Go to:https://wx.toronto.ca/inter/city/tosurvey.nsf/Survey?OpenForm
for an anonymous survey or go to:
https://wx.toronto.ca/inter/city/tosurvey.nsf/Participation?OpenForm
to become a tester with us around toronto.ca pages.

Among the many things we are examining is how we can engage Toronto through social media – ours, yours and theirs.

Information about the city web site plans is well covered in an article over at www.refresh-events.ca [link]