Public entities are held to a high standard when it comes to the First Amendment. This extends to social media but time and again we find that public entities are not properly informed as to the extent.
The most common question we receive when something goes sideways for a public entity is “Can I delete that post or comment on social media?”
The very short answer is no. Here’s why: in establishing a social media platform, it is essentially a public square. That means the protections for free speech are extensive and that you must respect those rights.
Ok. But apparently -- because sometimes this happens -- you now are telling me that you really need to delete something and that you have a really good reason for needing to do so.
Here’s our recommendation:
- Call your legal counsel and obtain official advice on that post and how it should be handled.
- If you do delete, make sure:
- to keep an official record of that post; and,
- apply that rationale consistently.
Is your head spinning?
After all, the better thing would be to buffer against all of this in the first place. We agree. Which is why social media requires:
- a clear strategy; and,
- it should be run by someone who understands the algorithms and issues that arise from it.
What I have attempted (in <300 words) to do here is to offer very quick answers to a very broad question. Every situation will be different but know that you should not treat it lightly.
Social media, though, is serious stuff. So serious, in fact, that we have a whole division of our company that is dedicated to running it for schools.
To learn more about how to take that load off of your plate, reach out to us for more information.