Tennessee Town Bans Negative Comments By Anyone Associated With The Local Government

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The South Pittsburg City Commission in Tennessee voted 4-1 to approve an ‘all-inclusive’ social networking policy banning negative comments about the local government made by “anyone associated with the town in an official capacity who uses social networks.”

The policy says “city elected representatives, appointed board members, employees, volunteers, vendors, contractors”can’t post anything negative about the city, its employees or other associates to social media. That includes videos, blogs, online forum comments, and posts and comments made to Facebook and Twitter.

“It seems like every few meetings we’re having to address something that’s been on Facebook and created negative publicity,”  Commissioner Jeff Powers said. “This is just an industry standard nowadays.”

Powers says every city employee will have to sign an acknowledgement of the policy, and those who violate it can be reprimanded.

“The first thing everyone wants to say is ‘I can’t post anything on Facebook,'” Powers said. “Well, you can. Just not [anything] that sheds a negative light on any person, entity, board or things of that nature. You can go ahead and post all you want.”

It is intended to “minimize personal attacking” and “showing people in a negative light,” Powers said.

“Criticism is one thing,” Mayor Jane Dawkins said. “Out-and-out lies and untruths — that’s another thing. Those kinds of things are the things that will be directed.”

Local news clip: