Wiki about Social Networking Legal Issues: Washington State

This wiki contains some useful information about Social Media and Local Elected Officials.


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Walter Neary

Thanks for the shout out, Gray. Some of the info on that page is affected by a peculiarly Washington state case involving metadata, but we hope some of the general elements apply. A lot of us are still trying to sort these things out with SM and government. Someone was telling me today that a city council member has a blog, but is moderating comments … and I was thinking, wow, that could lead to First Amendment challenges. Or not. Be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

Pam Broviak

Michael: thanks so much for sharing the link to the guide. MuniGov just started working as a group on the sequel to that guide. We hope to take things further by introducing actual guidance in the use of these tools and yet try to keep the same fun tone.

Walter: I helped an alderman set up a site, but it is not a government sponsored site – we set it up with private funds so how would he be obligated to allow anyone to say anything. There is so much spam out there I would hate to think he would have to let all that go through. (There has to be some moderation or we would all be advertising pharmaceuticals. )

Walter Neary

Hi Pam, Oh, I didn’t mean to suggest anyone did anything wrong. But I know at least one lawyer in Washington state who would say that if the alderman created the site *as an alderman* then it’s an extension of his role as a public official and thus something created as an official vehicle and a public document. An elected official or city employee can’t separate themselves from an official role easily. For example, a council member who uses a hotmail or comcast email address is going to have to disclose all those officials emails whether the email vehicle is a city-sponsored site or not. But what you describe sounds fine, I don’t mean to quibble, the laws and how they will be interpreted in these issues are all very unclear. I doubt if he’d get in trouble if he is filtering out spam but allowing all relevant posts to public discussion.