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Rods Reflections – MORE thoughts (and solutions) from delegates on social networking (27 Jun 09)

Not the most straightforward subject – but very important and there’s an awful lot of food for thought here

You probably remember that I recently asked you to help come up with solutions to 13 problems that delegates had mentioned about using social networking sites.

Click here to see what the problems were.

We were simply swamped with replies and thoughts and the flood hasn’t dried up as we are still getting emails and phone calls. So I really would like to thank everybody who has helped out.

One email from Glen Ocsko, Participation and Engagement Officer for London Borough of Tower Hamlets really caught my eye so I thought I would share it with you as well.

Glen clearly isn’t fazed by it all and he is very passionate about the benefits social networking sites can bring. His response was also a great read.

Here’s what Glen had to say:

“Hi Rod,

Now, normally I don't find the time to reply to your reflections - excellent as they are - but I just couldn't let this one pass by without throwing a few thoughts your way.

As requested, here are some responses to those questions. I have nothing at all to say that they are right or wrong of course, but with online social networking being relatively new few people if anyone can speak with real authority yet!

If there is a networking site outside the council's system who would control it?

This is not really a discussion about control, more about maintenance. The networking site will be controlled by the people who own it, be that Facebook, Bebo, Microsoft or some new start-up in Mongolia.

What matters is not who controls it, but how it is used. Press releases are sent out and picked up by other papers outside of the control of the Council (or not), they then do with it as they will. All that matters is that the information is sent out to a range of papers in an attempt to access groups who read those papers and that the information sent out is correct. It is the same online.

Are there any data protection issues you have to be aware of?

No more so than with any other publicity or communication related activity. You will not be giving out confidential information, you will not be collecting sensitive information from users and in any case this is all collected voluntarily and held by the site being used rather than the Council. As long as the site stores such information securely, and assuming that the site is used by Officers appropriately, there should be nothing else to be thrown up as a barrier.

Do you know of any freedom of information issues that you need to take into account?

Simply put, no. In a way, it actually makes some Freedom of Information activities easier, as information posted on a social networking site is already in the public domain.

How do you find the resources to update your sites, if you already have a corporate website?

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Comment by Glen Tower Hamlets Partnership — 01 Jul 09 at 14:14:17

The above article was not originally produced as an article so might not convey the message I intended - that we simply cannot afford to be scared of social networking, nor can we take our time to think about it. The online world works to different deadlines than the physical one, there is a very real risk that by the time local authorities have finally got their head around it that the public will be long gone.

The public generally respect work attempted far more than that which is not, my online philosophy is to try something and then evolve it.


Comment by Brad Public-i — 14 May 10 at 16:13:29

Glen - read your comments with great interest. Strongly suggest you head over to curiouscatherine.wordpress.com - if there is anyone out there who knows more about this topic than her I would love to meet them. Also check out what we are doing at www.marketing.citizenscape.net

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