Administrative Regulation 1.25

Matthew H. Hymel, County Executive

Social Media Use

Effective Date: April 3, 2012


The County of Marin Social Media Use Policy.


This regulation is issued pursuant to Section 2.08 of the Marin County Code and has been approved by the Board of Supervisors.


The County of Marin has a business need to augment traditional communication methods with the use of social media channels. The use of social media presents opportunity and risk to the County and individual County departments. In general, the County supports the use of social media to further County and department missions and goals.

The County endorses the secure use of social media technology to enhance communication, collaboration and information exchange; streamline processes; and foster productivity improvements. However, their application must not compromise data confidentiality and integrity. The same standards of conduct, principles and guidelines that apply to County of Marin employees in the performance of their assigned duties apply to employee social media technology use. This document establishes countywide social media use policies, protocols and procedures intended to mitigate associated risks from use of this technology where possible.


Department use of social media technology shall conform to the policies, protocols and procedures contained, or referenced, herein.

1.0 Definitions

1.1 Social Media

The U.S. Government defines social media as the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and content creation. Through social media, individuals or groups can create, organize, edit or comment on, combine, and share content. Social media uses many technologies and forms, including social-networking, blogs, wikis, photo–sharing, video–sharing, podcast, social bookmarking, mash-ups, widgets, virtual worlds, microblogs, Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and more. Not all forms of social media may be appropriate for use by County departments.

1.2 Official County Email Account

Email account provided by a department mail system or approved external mailbox that is used for official County business.

1.3 Approved County Social Networking Site

Approved County social networking site refers to social networks that the County Administrator’s Office (CAO) and Information Services and Technology (IST) Department have assessed and approved for use by County departments. See County of Marin Social Media Playbook (Networks and Standards) for the most recent list of approved sites.

1.4 Post

An administrator submitted message/blog in the form of, but may not be limited to, text, videos, photographs, graphics, links (hyperlinks), documents, computer applications, etc.

1.5 Comment

A user submitted response to an administrator post.

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2.0 Responsibility

2.1 Board Approval

Administrative Policy and Procedure No. 1.25: Social Media Use was approved by the Marin County Board of Supervisors on April 3, 2012.

2.2 IST and CAO

The County Chief Information Officer/Director of Information Systems Technology, or his/her designee, and the County Administrator’s Office are responsible for facilitating this policy in compliance with established Board rules and protocols. This includes responsibility to audit department use of social media and enforce policy compliance.

2.3 Department Head

Within the terms of this policy, Department Heads have authority to determine and establish social media activity at the department program level.

2.4 Social Media Coordinator

The Social Media Coordinator is appointed by the Department Head, or his/her designee, with authority to use social media on behalf of the department and responsibility to ensure the appropriateness of content.

3.0 Procedures

3.1 County social Media Technology Use

Department use of social media technology shall conform to the policies, protocols and procedures contained, or referenced, herein.

  1. Comply with all applicable federal, state, and county laws, regulations and policies. This includes adherence to but may not be limited to established laws and policies regarding copyright, records retention, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), California Public Records Act, First Amendment, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Hatch Act of 1939, privacy laws, employment related laws, plus County established Administrative Rules and Regulations No.1.25 – Social Media Use and Personnel Management Regulations (PMR) such as but not limited to No. 20 – Employee Standards of Conduct, No. 21 – Equal Employment Opportunity and Anti-Harassment, No. 23 – Electronic Use, and No. 26 – Workplace Security, Safety, and Violence in the Workplace.
  2. Be familiar and carry‐out social media activity in accordance with the County of Marin Social Media Playbook.

3.2 Requirements for Department's Using Social Media

Departments who choose to utilize social media shall:

  1. Establish a well thought out social media workplan that complements countywide policies and considers the department’s mission and goals, audience, legal risks, technical capabilities, security issues, emergency response procedures, etc. The workplan shall be submitted to IST and County Administrator’s Office for review.
  2. Designate a Social Media Coordinator responsible for overseeing the department’s social media activity, policy compliance, and security protection.

3.3 Authorized Use

Department Heads, or designees, are responsible for designating appropriate levels of use.

  1. Social media network usage shall be limited only to those with a clear business purpose to use the forum.
  2. Appropriate usage levels include identifying what sites the individual is approved to use, as well as defining capability: publish, edit, comment or view only.
  3. Only official spokespersons, Public Information Officers, Social Media Coordinators, and Department Head designee shall be considered authorized users and have permission to post and respond.
  4. Authorized users shall review the County’s social media policies and procedures and are required to acknowledge their understanding and acceptance of their scope of responsibility via signing an acknowledgement form and forwarding to IST.

3.4 User Behavior

The same standards, principles and guidelines that apply to County of Marin employees in the performance of their assigned duties apply to employee social media technology use.

  1. Authorized users shall do so only within the scope defined by their respective department per § 3.3 and in compliance with all County policies, practices and user agreements and guidelines.
  2. Authorized social media spokespersons participating in social networking discussions related to County business matters in off-County time shall indicate that viewpoints are personal and do not necessarily reflect County opinion.
  3. Violations of this policy shall be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and may result in appropriate disciplinary actions.

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3.5 Approved Social Media Networks

Departments shall only utilize County approved social media networks for hosting official County social media sites listed in the County of Marin Social Media Playbook.

  1. New social media networks under consideration will be reviewed and approved by the County Administrator’s Office and IST Chief Information Officer with consultation from County Counsel and Human Resources when appropriate.
  2. For each approved social media network, usage standards will be developed to optimize government use of the site.
  3. Departments may request review and approval of additional social media networks to IST as needed.

3.6 Authenticity Establishment

County department social media sites shall be created and maintained with identifiable characteristics of an official County site that distinguishes them from non-professional or personal uses.

  1. County social media network accounts shall be created using an official County email account.
  2. Contact information should display an official County email address, include something about being the “official account”, and provide a link to the County or department website.
  3. The name “Marin County” or the official County or department logo must be displayed.
  4. Link (hyperlink) to § 3.7.5: County of Marin Social Media User Responsibility Guideline must be displayed.

3.7 Site Content

Departments are responsible for establishing and maintaining content posted to their social media sites.

  1. Social Media Coordinators shall review site activity daily for exploitation or misuse.
  2. Social media content shall fully comply with all of the County’s Personnel Management Regulations including but not limited to No. 20, 21, 23 and 26.
  3. Contents posted on County social media sites may be considered public records subject to disclosure under California’s Public Record Act (“PRA” – Government Code §§ 6250 et. seq.). PRA requests for the production of posts on a County social media site shall be referred to County Counsel for review and response.
  4. Sites shall provide a link to the County of Marin Social Media User Responsibility Guideline (see § 3.7.5) and, if needed, consult with County Counsel to develop department specific disclaimers to meet the County’s legal needs.
  5. Following forms of content posted by external and authorized users may be subject to removal if they contain:
    • Profane language or content;
    • Content that promotes, fosters or perpetuates discrimination of protected classes;
    • Sexual harassment content;
    • Solicitations of commerce or advertisements including promotion or endorsement;
    • Promotion or endorsement of political issues, groups or individuals;
    • Conduct or encouragement of illegal activity;
    • Information that may tend to compromise the safety or security of the public or public systems;
    • Content intended to defame any person, group or organization;
    • Content that violates a legal ownership interest of any other party, such as trademark or copyright infringement;
    • Making or publishing of false, vicious or malicious statements concerning any employee, the County or its operations;
    • Violent or threatening content;
    • Disclosure of confidential, sensitive or proprietary information;
    • Advocating for alteration of hours, wages, and terms and conditions of employment (applies to County employees only).
  6. Unacceptable content and repeat individual violators shall be removed. Contact County Counsel on any legal issues. See § 3.8 concerning content management and deletion.
  7. Departments shall have preventative measure in place against potential destructive technical incidents. See § 3.9 on network security.

3.8 Records Management

Department use of social media shall be documented and maintained in an easily accessible format that tracks account information.

  1. Departments are responsible for the creation, administration and deactivation of social media accounts
  2. All content is to be fully accessible to any person requesting documents from the social media site.
  3. Content deemed inappropriate per § 3.7.5 or technically destructive per § 3.9.2 shall be promptly documented (screenshot/printout), saved pursuant to IST policies and procedures regarding record retention, and then be removed immediately. Contact County Counsel on any legal issues.
  4. Individuals (e.g., friends, fans or followers) who continue to post inappropriate content shall be removed.

3.9 Network Security

Department shall have security controls in place to protect County information and technology assets against potential destructive technical incidents.

  • Perceived or known compromises to the County’s internal network shall be promptly reported to IST.
  • Computers, laptops and mobile devices used to administer County social media sites shall have up‐to‐date software to protect against destructive technical incidents, including but may not be limited to, cyber, virus and spyware/adware attacks.

4.0 Related References

  1. County of Marin Social Media Playbook
  2. County of Marin Personnel Management Regulation No. 20: Employee Standards of Conduct
  3. County of Marin Personnel Management Regulation No. 21: Equal Employment Opportunity and Anti-Harassment
  4. County of Marin Personnel Management Regulation No. 23: Electronic Media
  5. County of Marin Personnel Management Regulation No. 26: Workplace Security, Safety, and Violence in the Workplace