SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens said he's updating the city's personnel policy to set guidelines for email and social media.Firefighters in South Charleston came up with idea to update the policy this week, Mullens announced during Thursday night's city council meeting. The firefighters had attended a seminar on using the Internet responsibly and wanted Mullens to educate other city employees on the topic, he said.Mullens said one part of the proposed policy addresses emails for city accounts. As per state law, local governments are required to maintain emails and release them as public information."In this day and age a lot of business is done by email," he said following the meeting.
The second part of the policy deals with social media. Mullens said he favors giving employees access to websites such as Facebook, but he wants to provide guidelines on what they say and do during and after work.
"They can't just get on there and trash people," he said.He said the proposed changes would serve as an education lesson for employees who may not be aware that some of the things they say online can come back to haunt them."Those [firefighters] who went to that [seminar] learned how some employees got into trouble around the country -- either sued or fired," he said. "Some things done on social media are not protected by freedom of speech. I wasn't aware of that."Michael Moore, the city's attorney, is reviewing the email guidelines, Mullens said. The social media guidelines are being drafted, he said. Both proposed changes will go before the city council for a vote.