The Council and Twitter: Spying?
Twitter and Cornwall Council make the pages of the Western Morning News today with the story of council employees being used to ‘monitor’ the use of Twitter by Councillors. I would love to think this is a misunderstanding but I am afraid I doubt it. As a few months ago, the Leader of the Council and without legal advice, banned the use of social media in a Cabinet meeting after a member of staff handed him a list of twitter comments. The banning was not legal under any of the current rules and was overturned a week or so later.
The comments and use of Twitter and other forms of social media by Councillors from all political parties are in the public domain. They are hardly secret. I would not even say any comments made are breaking any rule either under any of the Codes of Conduct for Councillors, or more importantly, the laws of this country. Sure, some of the comments are of a different opinion, especially on policy at Cornwall Council, but that is politics and people have the right not to agree to something.
My real worry is a few people at County Hall is so paranoid at what is being said on social media platforms they are trying everything in their powers to stop the use of social media by Councillors. This will no doubt back-fire making the council look ridiculous. It would also be acting against the principles of being open and transparent. It is ironic that Cornwall Council is seen as a trailblazer in local government circles of setting the pace in the use of social media, when in fact, a few in prominent positions want to ban, or restrict its use to only sending out ‘official statements’.
If the Leadership wants to know what is being said on Twitter I suggest they get an account and log in. What should not happen is officer time be used to collect tweets. This is not a good use of their time, or the tax-payers money used to pay them.