Who knew? The social media Powers That Be at the City of Salem don't allow external links in Facebook comments. Well, except their own, apparently.
I learned this after leaving a comment on a recent City of Salem post about a City Council work session regarding planning for a new police facility.
Brian Hines Well, after hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on police facility planning over the past six years, this is the third try -- and the second "redo." So I suspect there will be more twists and turns in the saga.
As described in my blog post, the City of Salem has gone from a $70 million "public safety" project that included a much smaller police facility AND much needed seismic upgrades/ renovations to the Civic Center to a supersized 150,000 sq. ft. police facility proposal that leaves staff and visitors to City Hall and the Library with an excellent chance of being buried in rubble after the Big One earthquake hits, because now there is no talk about seismic upgrades.
I don't like the idea of police department staff being all safe in their over-priced new building while people die at the Civic Center because city officials decided it was more important to have a new police facility that was the Best Money Could Buy. Salem has many other needs. Wasting taxpayer money on an overpriced police facility prevents those needs from being met.
I included the link to my blog post because I didn't want to clog up my Facebook comment with the thousand or so words in that post. If people wanted to learn more details about the City of Salem's three tries at planning a new police facility, they could simply click on the link.
So I was confused when a City of Salem comment popped up the next day.
I replied to that comment:
Brian Hines Dear City of Salem, I'm confused by your reference to the City's social media comment policy. I just read it and couldn't find any sign that Geoff or I have violated it (we are the only commenters on this post). So why the link to the comment policy?
The response from the City of Salem Facebook guy/gal wasn't very helpful.
City of Salem "Our social media sites allow for comment but not posting or linking by others to externally generated content. Both the posts of employees and all comments on social media sites are public records under Oregon’s Public Records laws. The City will retain a record of the comments, even after the comment is removed from social media site."
Hmmm. This is a quote from the City of Salem's Social Media Policy. So apparently my commenting sin was that in my first comment I included a link to "externally generated content."
The first thing that struck me is that the City of Salem's "Just a reminder..." comment had included a link to externally generated content -- the Social Media Policy that prohibits links to externally generated content.
So it's OK for City of Salem staff to post comments with links in them, but other commenters can't do this? That doesn't make sense.
Nor does the whole policy prohibiting links to externally generated content.
This is a big part of Facebook and Twitter. Links are the lifeblood of many posts and comments. It allows people to make a statement about this-or-that and back it up with a link that leads to more information about this, or that.
Taking away my Facebook-given right to include a link in a comment... I object!
The City of Salem should be encouraging active discussions of issues on its social media sites. Often this will involve people sharing links that pertain to the subject being discussed.
Now, I wasn't previously aware that all comments on the City of Salem Facebook page are public records. That's cool! I like the idea of my comments being stored for eternity (or close to it) on local government backup drives located thousands of feet under City Hall in solid bedrock (or wherever).
I don't see any necessary connection, though, between (1) including a link to externally generated content in a comment, and (2) having that comment be a public record -- so long as the link is part of the comment.
Meaning, it is possible to delete a link after Facebook has recognized it and still have the link appear in the picture box thingie associated with the comment. Maybe in that case it is difficult to have the link be preserved as a public record.
But if a commenter leaves the link in the comment, the public record will preserve that link, and a reference to the information the link contains.
So I don't understand why the City of Salem Social Media Policy prohibits links in comments. If the links are germane to the subject matter being commented on, why not allow them?
I appreciate that City of Salem staff haven't deleted the link in my comment. I'll continue including links in my comments on the City's Facebook page (especially since the City of Salem does the same).
There's more interesting stuff in the Social Media Policy that probably resembles language in other agreements that I habitually click "yes" to and never read. For example, this rather scary passage (I've boldfaced the especially scary parts):
6. We can’t guarantee the security of information you share on social media sites. By commenting, you waive any rights you may have to material, images or comments you post on City of Salem social media sites. You grant the City of Salem perpetual, non-exclusive, license to use, copy, transmit, excerpt, publish, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, create derivative works of, host, index, cache, tag, encode, modify and adapt in any form or media now known or hereinafter developed, any submission posted by you on this site. You waive any rights you may have in having the material altered or changed in a manner not agreeable to you. By submitting content you are consenting to its display on the site and for related online and offline promotional uses.
Oh, well. As a blogger I'm fine with City of Salem staff taking my brilliant comments and doing with them as they will. If they can find some marvelous "online and offline promotional uses" for a comment, great.
If I don't know how the material has been "altered or changed in a manner not agreeable" to me, I'll sleep easy. (At least, until I do know.)