Small Maryland town passes social media policy for elected officials


    “How are you? Great to see ya!” Bob Brenengen said, smiling, as he held open the door for two customers.

    When Brenengen opened The Main Cup in Middletown, Maryland, 12 years ago, it was a coffee shop.

    “Back then, people were coming in with their computers. Now, everybody just logs in on their phones on the wifi,” he said.

    Now, as they operate as a full-service restaurant, he says people are always on their phones and on social media.

    “It’s ubiquitous now, everywhere,” he said. “Every table, someone is somehow using the internet.”

    The small town of Middletown, in Frederick County, is now taking a big step to make sure they are getting out accurate information across social media.

    “This policy really gets to the heart of factual information being disseminated out to the public. And that’s really what we’re after,” Burgess John Miller said.

    The town passed a social media policy this week for its social media platforms.

    “What we’re trying to do is to provide guidelines not only to our employees but to the other elected officials and to our staff to make sure that we speak with one voice,” Burgess Miller said.

    The town’s social media sites will be monitored weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The policy says “inappropriate forms of content shall not be permitted on the Town of Middletown’s social media sites and are subject to removal and/or restriction.” It lists things like vulgar or profane language, personal attacks and spam as being inappropriate.

    They will now be archiving the data on the Town of Middletown’s social media platforms.

    The policy says that town officials who “choose to have a social media presence should have separate social media accounts.”

    “What we have done is we have asked anybody who has that to state on there, 'This is the official page of this X town official.' Then you can have your own personal Facebook page and, of course, a campaign page would be completely different.”

    “If the town is interested in making sure that information is accurate and that there’s not disinformation being funneled through their page, then I’m all for it,” Brenengen said.

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