PALMDALE — The Palmdale Water District has an active presence on social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, where customers can learn about the various goings-on of the water provider.

However, that presence on sites easily accessed by members of the public also presents the potential for misuse.

To provide a measure of legal protection for the District by allowing it to police public activity on its social media sites, the District’s Board of Directors on Monday unanimously approved social media terms-of-use guidelines.

The policy will be available on the District’s website, www.palmdalewater.org, with links from the social media sites.

The District has used social media since 2014, with activity increasing to posting at least four to five days each week in the past two years, following the arrival of a dedicated public affairs director to manage it.

“That’s a lot of posts out there,” Public Affairs Director Judy Shay said.

Without the terms-of-use guidelines, the District has been limited in what it may do legally in terms of enforcing standards and removing offending posts should the action be challenged, she said.

“It’s very rare, but you never know what may happen,” Shay said.

Staff have had to block maybe one or two people in the past for inappropriate actions, she said.

The District has not, but organizations have been legally challenged for blocking users without a terms-of-use policy, she said.

The terms of use will apply to anyone accessing, contributing content to or otherwise participating in the District’s social media posts.

They state that the social media pages are constantly monitored, and inappropriate material will be removed as soon as possible and without prior notice.

This inappropriate material may include profanity; content that “promotes, fosters or perpetuates discrimination” of any kind or defames any person, group or organization; sexual content or links to such; unlawful harassment or threats of violence; comments that are not topically related or out of context; solicitations of commerce; “information that may tend to compromise the safety or security of the public or public systems and statements either in support of or in opposition to political campaigns.

The District may deny access to anyone who repeatedly violates the terms of use.

“I think this is a common sense policy to implement, especially now since we have our collaboration with the (Palmdale) School District,” Director Robert Alvarado said.

That collaboration means students have more contact with the District’s social media and other online activities, “and they don’t need to see obscenities or read things that they cannot even pronounce sometimes,” he said.

The policy applies to the members of the public who access the District’s social media, not for the Board of Directors or staff, Shay said.

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