Local government officials have taken to the online social medium, using it as a way to reach the public and enhance their political image.
But it’s an awkward mix of business life and personal life.
Status updates range from “Tonight’s City Council agenda will discuss an interesting new environmental ordinance” to “My kids woke me up again at 4 a.m. this morning, ugh.”
For the high-profile public official, it’s not as much of an issue. Those Facebook pages are carefully manicured by PR reps daily.
But what about the city manager of a small city or the city official who isn’t necessarily viewed as a public figure, but faces the same potential scrutiny?
A public administrator can be tagged in a photo drinking a beer at a BBQ or have a friend post, “Man, those idiots on the City Council just have no clue, do they?”
Maybe not a big deal to them, but perhaps a big deal to someone else.
Jenny Merkin, business writer for The Atlantic, recently wrote about the use of Facebook and Twitter, and the social Web sites’ view into the private lives of its users.
She writes: “Will Facebook’s popularity make damaging scandals more common, or will it make the breaking of private-life scandals seem merely commonplace?”
“A combination seems the most likely outcome: Scandals will still exist, but popular reaction could ease. As with monetary inflation — the more money out there, the lower the value of the dollar — we could experience scandal inflation. With so much private information sloshing around the net, scandals could lose their luster.”
It’s each person’s choice to share the information they want viewed by the public, or his or her “friends.” But slipups do happen.
What’s your take? What is the responsibility of a public official to keep his or her Facebook clean? Are controversies or scandals in the government world more likely to occur due to Facebook?
Post your comments below or e-mail James Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org