Barnsley Council social media acceptable use policy

Our social media platforms are here to provide you with news, information and advice, and we welcome your comments and engagement with our content.

We understand that people have differing views on many issues. However, any form of online hate, abuse or bullying is unacceptable on any platform, not just council-owned.

We monitor our platforms regularly, but if you notice any inappropriate comments on our sites, please send us a private message and let us know.

Our active hours

Our social media pages are monitored between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Thursday and until 4.45pm on Friday.

We’ll be unable to respond to questions or complaints outside these hours, even if we post from our pages. Please use the council’s contact us page if you have an urgent query.

We monitor our social media pages for coverage during critical and major incidents, adverse weather and events.

Overview of house rules:

  • Don’t do anything that breaks the law.
  • Be polite, even if you disagree. Name-calling, profanity, fighting words, discriminatory terms, sexual harassment, bullying, and defamatory language will not be tolerated. You may think that your comments are funny, but others may not.
  • Stay on topic. Keep the conversation relevant to the post and contribute to the dialogue. We’ll remove off-topic content, out-of-context, spam, promotional or links to third-party sites.
  • Keep it real. All posts should come from a real person and a real profile. Content from fake or anonymous profiles will be deleted, and profiles will be blocked.
  • We reserve the right to remove content posted to our social media pages that violate these guidelines.

The detail

We’ll take immediate action on our accounts if content in any format (such as comments, videos, images, gifs, attachments, links, emojis) is:

  • defamatory, misleading or false
  • making allegations without any evidence that would be deemed slanderous and malicious
  • abusive or threatening – this includes swearing, adapted spellings with the same meaning etc
  • name-calling directed towards our employees, elected members or other platform users
  • intimidatory towards our employees, elected members or other platform users
  • inciting hate crime or hate crime words. Find out more about hate crime
  • obscene, profane or sexually oriented language
  • discriminatory in any way
  • promoting illegal activity
  • promoting individual products or services
  • Promoting party political activity
  • completely off-topic
  • the same message is posted multiple times, otherwise known as 'spamming'
  • controversial, irrelevant and off-topic messages, otherwise known as 'trolling'

Action

We have an automatic profanity filter on our pages. If you include a keyword in your comment we’ve added to the filter, the platform will automatically hide your comment so that it doesn't appear on our page. Our list of keywords includes terms relating to the bullet point list above.

If your content relates to the list above, we’ll hide or delete it depending on the severity.

We’ll respond publicly to your content and via direct message asking you to remove it immediately. We’ll tell you why we’ve removed it.

We’ll block your access to our social media pages if you do not amend or remove your content. We’ll tell you that we’re doing this.

Depending on the content, we also screenshot posts and consider legal action or send them to the police for investigation.

As standard, we do not disable comments from our posts. It’s our discretion to disable comments from posts if we think this is the right action to take to protect the public and our employees.

Hate crime

Hate crime is any incident motivated by prejudice or hate towards their actual or perceived social identity. Social identities include:

  • disability
  • gender identity
  • race, ethnicity or nationality
  • religion, faith or belief
  • sexual orientation

Hate and harassment can be criminal or non-criminal behaviour and include offensive comments or images on digital channels such as online, social media or text messages.

Find out more about hate crime, including how to report hate and harassment.

Allegations against council employees and elected members

We have a zero-tolerance approach toward fraud and corruption in our organisation. If you make an allegation on our social media accounts against the council, our employees or elected members, we’ll ask you to report it along with evidence via our complaints and compliments webpage.

If you make allegations without any evidence that would be deemed slanderous and malicious against our employees and elected members, this may be reported to the police.

Safeguarding allegations or disclosures

If you make any safeguarding allegations or disclosures on our social media pages, these will be passed on to the relevant organisations as part of our duty of care. Please raise these concerns directly to us via our safeguarding webpage.

Prevent and Channel allegations or disclosures

If you make any Prevent and Channel allegations or disclosures on our social media pages, these will be passed on to the relevant organisations as part of our duty of care. You can also raise concerns with the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or via South Yorkshire Police on 101 or 999 if it’s an emergency. You can find out more about Prevent and Channel on our website.

Complaints

We understand that sometimes you can be unhappy with something we have or have not done, and you want us to deliver a service to you (such as empty your bin) or to tell us about something (such as where there’s a pothole). You don’t have to use our complaints procedure to do this - you can complete one of our online forms to report or tell us about something. Find out more about our complaints and compliments webpage.

Pre-election period

Whatever type of election, if you post content which could be interpreted as supporting a party or candidate during the pre-election period, we’ll delete it.