Gold Coast Councillors handed ‘rule book’ on social media use

GOLD COAST Councillors have some new strict guidelines to follow when it comes to the use of their social media account.

The “Your Social Media and You” guide has been created for all Queensland Councillors in a bid to reduce online conflict between local representatives and their constituents.

In a statement, Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the comprehensive set of social media guidelines was an important new resource.


“They’re designed to assist councillors in their interactions with other social media users, and to avoid the unnecessary conflict and complaints,” Minister Hinchliffe said.

“They clearly set out how councillors can deal with abusive, threatening and obscene social media posts and minimise the risk of complaints.

“Councillor complaints tend to spike ahead of elections, so these new guidelines are particularly relevant leading into the March 2020 Local Government polls.”

There was suggestion councillors would need to close down their personal pages and only use an official council outlet, something Gold Coast Councillors voiced their concern about.

In the lead up to the new guidelines being issued, both Cr Glenn Tozer (Div 9) and Cr William Owen-Jones (Div 2) took to Facebook to declare they would continue to use their ‘private’ accounts to communicate with residents.

“I’m convinced there is great value in connecting with residents regarding community issues,” Cr Tozer explained.

“I have no intention to delete this page or its content, because I’m convinced it is published transparently in the public interest. If necessary, I am willing to defend that position to whatever extent required,” he added.

While Cr Owen-Jones described it as a ‘vexed issue’ and declared there was “value” in keeping his Facebook page “open and available moving forward”.

“Given the fact it is the 21st century I do hope to continue to be able to engage with the community openly and transparently in the digital world,” Cr Owen-Jones wrote.

The guide outlines the difference between a councillor’s official, election and private pages; how the Councillor Code of Conduct applies; moderation of comments; and how to recognise and capture posts which are public records.

It also addresses how to manage election campaign platforms and what to do about social media sites that are set up to inappropriately attack councillors.