Some Memphis City Council members aren't too happy with new rules guiding the use of Facebook, Twitter, or personal blogs for city employees.
The new policy, which went into effect on January 31st, prohibits employees from posting "disparaging" statements about the city, its employees, or citizens or from posting pictures of co-workers and the city property without permission. Employees cannot make statements or comments about illegal drugs or criminal activity or use profanity that could be considered obscene.
Employees are also be forbidden from disclosing information identifying co-workers or the city's partners, vendors, or suppliers, as well as city intellectual property such as "drawings, designs, software, ideas, and innovation."
Additionally, employees aren't allowed to "disparage any race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin." If a city employee chooses to identify himself or herself as such on their personal social networks, he or she must state that views expressed there do not reflect those of the city of Memphis.
"All employees are responsible for maintaining the city’s positive reputation and presenting the city in a manner that safeguards its reputation, employees, managers, and shareholders," reads the policy.
Failure to follow the new policy could result in termination. But city councilman Jim Strickland disagreed with parts of the policy. He said employees should be able to express their views.
"If an employee was unhappy about the $4.6 million pay cuts, they should have the right to criticize the council for making that decision," Strickland said.
Councilwoman Janis Fullilove said she uses her Facebook page to discuss both good and bad things about the city.
"This isn't Iraq or Iran. The First Amendment says we have the right to free speech," Fullilove said.
Councilman Lee Harris agreed with the required employee disclosure statement, but he said the rest of the policy was too overly broad.
Councilman Harold Collins asked the administration to consider the council's input in tweaking the policy, and a representative from Mayor A C Wharton's office agreed to consider some suggested changes.