Special training on using social media has been provided to Norfolk county councillors, in the light of embarrassing gaffes and blunders by politicians in other parts of the country.

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A number of councillors outside of Norfolk have found themselves in hot water after posting messages on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and council bosses are keen to avoid a repeat by members of County Hall.

Public relations officers at the council held a social media training day on Wednesday last week, with 10 of the 84 county councillors attending.As well as warning them about the pitfalls of social media, the councillors were also told how using the likes of Twitter can help build relationships and foster a sense of community.

A council spokesman said: “We had 10 members from three different parties who attended our social media training. It was designed to give councillors an overview of what social media is, tell them about some of the most popular platforms and make them aware of the opportunities and pitfalls they present.

“We talked to them about how we’re using social media at the authority –we interact and respond to enquiries on our @NorfolkCC Twitter account and on the Norfolk Facebook page which have more than 7,000 followers and more than 1,000 likes respectively.We covered how social media can be used to build relationships, foster a greater sense of community and get information out quickly in emergency situations.”

But some councillors and MPs have caused controversy with their comments on Twitter, where messages of 140 characters can be posted for public viewing.

Last year, Julian Swainson, then the Labour group leader on Waveney District Council, was investigated over comments he made on Twitter, which appeared to question the attractiveness of opposition party members. After a number of complaints to the council, the matter was referred to the authority’s assessment sub-committee.

It made a number of recommendations and Mr Swainson later apologised after admitting one remark might be seen as offensive.

In August, Exeter city councillor Catherine Dawson had to write a letter of apology to Ben Howlett, the national chairman of Conservative Future, after posting an insulting message on Twitter about him.

The Labour councillor intended the tweet to be a private message to another councillor, but sent it publicly, describing it as “a 5am lack of judgement”.

4 comments

  • Councillors do not have to follow fads such as this, nor should this occur costs to the taxpayer or council. All councillors have mobile phones and can keep in touch with anybody they need to. If I would want to follow cllr. Murphy's anxious twittering for acceptance, coming out of some back room chat with three like minded, hoping we 'like' and support his immaculate rebirth as a property developer, I would ask my cllr. to get in touch with me in this way, what self gratifying twaddle. Twitter data does not have any relevance to justify council business of any kind, nor is it a replacement for voting, so those who think of using it for any other purpose than to 'foster a greater sense of community' could be accused of gerrymandering. Lastly, what evidence that twitter improves the abysmal voter turnout? It is the unpopularity of people with party politics that underlies the apathy, not whether cllr. can twitter.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

  • *cough* Cllr Casimir *cough*

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    User Removed

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

  • Twitter is for tw*ts

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

  • I doubt very much if there is much call for councillors to Twitter in an official capacity. If they can't use it properly, or keep a civil tongue in their heads, then they shouldn't go anywhere near it. Either way, I fail to see why the public purse should be frittered away on such trivialities as this.

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    T Doff

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

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