Thursday, March 26, 2015

Social Media Policy in Indian Context

In continuation of my previous blog on the subject, I would like to mention about the importance of response and responsiveness, content governance, security governance and governance of legal issues. It would also like to recall of professor emphasis on the issue of the citizen conduct, which is also crucial part of the policy. It is also relevant to mention that in the last session, our visiting guest speaker also mentioned about the importance of policy documentation and changes made subsequently in connection of GCPedia.

The policy on content management and responsiveness covers how often the page information to be updated, in what manner the response would be posted and what would be the turnaround time of response.  As a response policy, it is not  necessary to respond all posts immediately or individually. It is also important to ensure that posts are short and to the points, only reflect the official views.  We may set the time limit in advance to put a limit on the public expectation.

The posts may be classified into three categories-the routine response (Frequently Asked Questions and Fixed Response Formate), indirect response in terms of available information in public domains( query/complaints related to program/projects) and specific response. The supervisors levels officials may be authorized to respond the first two levels of posts and managerial level would be required to respond the third category. 

With regard to content management policy, only designated official may be allowed to post content on social media sites while ensuring its accuracy. The whole department will be responsible for the creation of the content but the same will be posted by the designated official such as System administrator to ensure the social media policy are adhered with. The policy adopted by the US Air Force in this regard is very relevant wherein their employee have been instructed to specify through a disclaimer that any comments provided by them on external social media sites are personal in nature and does not represent the views of the Department.

There are technical and behavioral security concerns for the use of social media as well. The technical concerns relate to password security, authentic of identity and functionality , etc. The behavior concerns refer to those threats that results from employee’s intentional or inadvertent actions. Thus, the need to follow a policy requiring safe custody of username and password,account informations etc is very important.

The social media policy must also ensure that the employee are abiding by all existing laws and regulations. The legal implications must be viewed in accordance with the law of land e.g. Right to information Act, Information Technology Act, 2000 ( As amended in 2008) and record management policy. Under Rule, 2011, the sensitive personal data has been defined very clearly subject to those information that is freely available or accessible or in public domain. The policy must also in compliance with the existing law governing data protection and privacy. 

As the social media platforms are based outside India and not governed by the Indian laws, the specific policy related to information security and archiving is needed. The need to engage with the service provider to work out Service Legal Agreement for convenient complaints and response mechanism between government and service providers is crucial element of the policy. It must be ensured that covers the issues on removal of offensive contents, content storage, shared access of content and archival mechanism , etc.

The policy must delineate the citizen conduct expected from the public. The social media site unlike traditional media allow instant two way public communication between government and citizens. The rules for the acceptable conducts on the part of the citizens are required to put limitations on offensive languages, inciting violations or promoting illegal activities. The similar policy is already in place for use of official website, the same are also applicable here.The social media usage policy should clearly specify that the following is forbidden : 

  1. Insulting, threatening or provoking language
  2. Inciting hatred on the basis of races, religion, gender, nationality or
     sexuality or other personal characteristics
  3. Swearing, using hate-speech or making obscene or vulgar comments 
  4. Libel, condoning illegal activity, contempt of court and breach of copyright
  5. Spamming, i.e., adding the same comment repeatedly
  6. Impersonating or falsely claiming to represent a person or organization
  7. Posting in a language other than the language of the website
  8. Invading people’s privacy
  9. Posting off-topic comments.

Looking forward for your suggestions and comments, please. 

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