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Facebook has become a larger part of the communications strategy for many cities, creating new opportunities and at least one challenge.
In Streetsboro, there are Facebook pages for the parks, fire and police departments and the city as a whole. But one Streetsboro resident was unable to completely view the citywide page because she had been blocked by Mayor Glenn Broska on his personal profile.
Resident Carmen Laudato (and a few others) were able to see, but not post on the city page, Broska explained.
"I didn't want to read any more of Carmen's posts and have them appear on my personal page, so I blocked her," he explained. "Unbeknownst to me, when I block someone on my personal page, I block them on any page I manage."
Laudato, who's been a frequent critic of the mayor, said she could view the city Facebook page, but not any posts Broska added to it. For example, if the parks and recreation department posted something on the city's Facebook page, she'd see it.
"I guarantee when he started that city page, I don't think that he knew that would happen," Laudato said. "It was an honest accident."
Broska told Council he's since unblocked Laudato and several others on his personal profile so they can post online and view his comments on the city Facebook page.
City Councilman Jeff Allen requested the administration develop a policy for using Facebook in light of Laudato's complaint.
"I know it's kind of new to the city," Allen said. "We haven't had it too long, and maybe it's time for a policy about this."
Broska said the administration is looking at the police department's policy for Facebook and will likely adopt a tweaked form of that policy, which does not currently address public records maintenance.
The city's policy will address public records, he added.
City Council is scheduled to continue the discussion at its Service Committee meeting, which will take place Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 9184 S.R. 43.
Laudato said she's concerned the lack of a policy will create legal problems for the city when it comes to public records requests.
"I don't have any intention of pursuing the city in any legal way; however, that's just me," she told council, adding she believes posts and messages posted on the page are public records.
Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said he's planning to develop a policy for social media use for city. He said it would likely be modeled after policies developed for the police and fire departments, which spearheaded the city's use of social media.
"With the continued growth in the use of social media, we've begun looking at a more comprehensive citywide policy, and the content would likely mirror the current policies."
He said "postings are done for the purpose of public information sharing, so we consider all of the information an open record."
Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said the city's Facebook page is a way of publicizing updates to the city's website.
"Whatever the city does, the city controls through limited access," she said. "We've had it for four years."
Most of the posts on Aurora's page are meeting notices linking back to the city's website, although there are a handful of comments.
Womer Benjamin said the city is reviewing its social media policy.
Facebook: Bob Gaetjens -- Record-Courier