Social media policy to get another look in Macomb County

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published December 22, 2021

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MACOMB COUNTY — Several changes are being proposed for a social media policy that would govern the use by county board members.

At the Dec. 1 Macomb County Board of Commissioners government oversight committee meeting, the board tabled approving a social media policy until its next meeting.

Commissioner Harold Haugh, who represents Fraser and Roseville, recommended the item be postponed.

“There are numerous changes that are being proposed,” he said.

Commissioner Veronica Klinefelt represents Eastpointe, Grosse Pointe Shores, St. Clair Shores and part of Warren. She called the policy a total rewrite.

“Given the strange decision that came out in April from the Supreme Court, it seemed to remove the settled law of the land on what people can post,” she said.

Klinefelt said she would like legal counsel to examine the policy that will come before the board for approval, specifically with regard to public comment on posts. She requested a written legal opinion be provided.

“The courts have likened social media to actual physical places, so when they’re determining if something is a public place or a limited public place, they use examples like a park is a public forum, a library or a school might be a public forum,” Klinefelt said. “They’re talking with respect to how you can sensor public or limited forum.”

The policy will have the authority to extend beyond the BOC and will be added to BOC rules. The policy governs the use of social media by the Office of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.

“Sharing information about county programs, news and activities through social media is an effective way to engage and inform the community,” the policy states. “Employees or designees that use social media to post on behalf of the BOC must follow this policy.”

Individuals or vendors must have approval from the board chair, or their designee, to use social media on behalf of the BOC. Only social media accounts approved by the board chair, or their designee, may be used on behalf of the BOC.