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New social media policy expected soon for Mohave County

August 27, 2018

Mohave County staff may soon see a new policy that dictates how they use social media for work.

In a unanimous vote Monday, the Board of Supervisors directed County Manager Mike Hendrix to work with all county departments to formulate a policy that addresses how county employees use social media when representing the county in an official capacity.

District III Supervisor Buster Johnson proposed the measure due to individual county departments’ growing presence on social media and what he claims to be an outdated social media policy.

“I’ve noticed some errors that have been made and have been pointed out to me on certain of our platforms,” he said. “I would just make a recommendation that we would give it to staff to come back with a new policy and sort of a chain of command as to who is in charge and who handles or approves any postings of Facebook pages or anything to do with Mohave county in an official capacity…to make sure that we do not get ourselves and the taxpayers in trouble.”

The future policy, however, is not intended for elected board members, said Johnson.

In recent years, elected officials have come under fire regarding their use of social media. For example, last year, Kingman resident J’aime Morgaine filed suit against Congressman Paul Gosar for blocking her on social media, which she claimed violated her First Amendment rights. The suit was ultimately dropped earlier this month after Gosar stated he would no longer block constituents on social media and adopt a new policy of his own.

“The Arizona statutes are recently or in the process of being updated with respect to open meeting law and updating the law is taking into consideration that social media is an official public forum and so that’s why the state law is being changed to integrate that,” Morgaine, now a Democratic candidate running unopposed in the Aug. 28 primary for a seat in the Arizona Legislature, told the board Monday. “So that definitely needs to be integrated into any changes in (the county’s) social media policy.”

During Monday’s meeting, District II Supervisor Hildy Angius expressed interest in addressing how elected officials use social media. She suggested that a spokesperson would be a viable option to monitor social media for the county, including for the Board of Supervisors.

“I think we’re all sort of learning things the hard way,” she said. “We try to do the best we can, we’re only human, you know, our feelings get hurt and we don’t like to be lied about but there are laws now… I’ve been told two different things about elected officials (and) staff who are, at work time, talking about things that have nothing to do with work, political things, so I think all of these need to be addressed, as uncomfortable as they are.”

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