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Social Media Policy

Social Media Policy

General Policy for Electronic Participation and Use of Social Media at Muscat Contact Center - Muscat Municipality


Introduction

In April 2011, responding to the orders of His Majesty "Sultan Qaboos bin Said" may Allah protect him concerning the development of communication channels between citizens and different government bodies, he referred to activate Oman`s digital strategy, which cares all aspects of developing the Omani digital society and e-government. It is found that the social media websites characterizing with potential and capabilities to cooperate and participate surpassed the nature of the static Internet based on publishing and browsing; they become a new force may form the future of governments by restructuring their structures and public services provided, helping policy makers to prioritize and encourage the public in order to accept the programs, increase levels of satisfaction, and therefore enhance the chances of successful policy outcomes.

For instance, Social Media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogging applications and mobile technologies enable the governments to engage in the groups` knowledge of the society rapidly and directly, and then the stakeholders turn from negative clients for government services to consultants and innovators contributing with ideas that meet their individual and collective needs a greater degree.

Despite the great popularity of Social Media and benefits mentioned above, except that its widespread use has led to emerge many challenges and risks that need to be studied and dealt with very carefully.

From this perspective, and desiring to the proper harness of Social Media, Muscat Contact Center has prepared this guidebook though that it could interact with Social Media and Electronic Websites in a secure manner guaranteeing the rights of institution and employees working on these channels and to achieve the greatest possible benefit in contact channels with Muscat Municipality through its accounts in Social Media ` Websites.

The Definition

Social Media are a collection of Internet technologies and websites used to exchange views, experiences and perspectives; they are used mainly as dialogue and conversation tools, differ from traditional media such as TV & Radio and not considered as a mean of broadcasting.

Social Media are used as effective tools for direct dialogue among the government and citizens. This means that the level of control changes to a deeper level of communication with citizens, as well their participation of opinions and suggestions compared to the traditional media. The most important features of using Social Media in the government sector is the creation of further transparency and effective communication with citizens, the generation of a stronger sense with the government institutions policy and services and therefore gaining a greater confidence from citizens.

Social Media tools can be used in a wide range of fields where government institutions can utilize them to raise awareness of specific issues, build credibility with a specific group of government stakeholders electronically, and engage the institution in its use as an information tool through which the organization`s news, its works and achievements be published, in addition to educating and directing the public properly to handle the services provided by Muscat Municipality.

The types of social media tools

The five main social media tools are:

Social networks : A term often used to refer the websites used to contact and interact with others informally and based on Internet, including Facebook and Twitter.

Media Sharing Networks : Meant for the websites that allow users to share video and photos with others, as well to comment on their media other users. Examples of such networks include YouTube and Flickr.

Blogs:Blogs: A blog is a website; its contents and blogs and topics called "entries" are managed by reverse chronological order, and allows the blog` visitors to comment on them.

WIKI applications :They are applications based on the Internet, allow users to add or edit contents to a web page; one of the most common examples of that Free encyclopedia applications is "Wikipedia".

Forums :They are applications available online, allow groups of participants to discuss specific topics.

Websites : They are official websites for the institutions, which are interface and complement to the social media accounts, as well service websites through some e-services provided by the authority.

The Benefits of Social Media tools

Social Media tools are the most important means of media currently; they are providing many advantages that support the process of communication between the government` institutions and citizens, including:

  • Increasing access to citizens, and developing the communication process.
  • They are preferred communication tools for a lot of citizens.
  • Meeting the expectations of citizens in term of the regulation of modern services and enhancement of their reputation.
  • Strengthening transparency.
  • Strengthening the relationship with citizens, partners and stakeholders.
  • Strengthening performance by focusing on the communication process and its improvement.
  • Increasing the effectiveness of the communication process compared to the long-term cost.
  • Utilizing the effectiveness of non-governmental channels.
  • Speeding of access to citizens` responses and interventions.
  • Accessibility to a certain class of citizens regarding specific issues.
  • Minimizing the dependence on applicable media and facing the inaccurate press coverage.
  • Directing citizens directly to e- transaction channels.
  • Creating and developing the electronic contents written by citizens.

The Policy of Dealing with Social Media Networks


Transparency:

The process of electronic interaction and participation must be fully transparent and open to all. Achieving success in such strategies depends on the principle of transparency from the beginning to clarify the objectives, procedures of use, who is responsible for doing any act and its results, how to deal with what is requested and written about. In other words, users must understand the importance of their participation, its consequents and implications, which will increase the confidence of citizens in institutions.

Confidence in citizens

Social Media tools require rapid responses and direct contact with government institutions, throughout the day whether the official working time and beyond. Thus, it is necessary to grant the confidence to employees and authorize them after they have been suitably trained, in order to understand and manage risks related disclosure of information. If information needs further verification and follow-up, employees must be proactive and act effectively.

The slow response and lack of timely response affects the process of using electronic sharing tools and reduces their effectiveness about that sort.

The Participation as a basic right:

Participation has to be looked as a basic right for every citizen; it contributes in improving national policies and strategies targeting citizens in their daily lives. To achieve this objective, the efforts of citizens` e-participation must be very important and be answered, providing evidence on what has been taken and the impact of these partnerships on the process of policy-making and clarification in a transparent manner. The recognition of partnerships is very significant and must be open on an ongoing basis in order to create and maintain the partnership culture.

Codifying and Preventing Staff Complaints:

Staff of Muscat Municipality must adhere to the need not to refer the work` complaints or criticize the municipal` accounts whether through the social media networks, newspapers and traditional media. If this is proved, the employee displays himself to legal accountability according to the personnel regulations in regard to the confidentiality of information within the institution.

The Procedures for using Social Media Tools:


Account Management:

  • The employee has not been permitted to manage the official accounts of the institution unless authorized a resolution to do these tasks; this decision bears the name and job of the employee / staff that will be responsible for managing this account / accounts.
  • When selecting the account management` officer in charge, there are a lot of requirements that should be taken into considered; mainly:
  • Qualifying the employee and his/her ability level to make the issues that will be discussed with the public through social media websites.
  • Language or communication skills owned by the employee.
  • Language or communication skills owned by the employee.
  • Awareness level of social media websites and understanding their technical knowledge.
  • The employee`s readiness to keep contact with the public through social media channels outside the official working hours, dealing with the situations required a response or any other action at any given time of day, and throughout the week, (compensated in proportion to the performance of duties at informal times – Over time - or compensatory time off).

The Management of Government` Official Accounts in Social Media Websites:

  • The employee responsible for managing the institution` official accounts by reaching out to the public through the social media channels of communication, organization`s representative and spokesperson concerning its official information and opinions published for managing accounts through these channels established by the municipality represented in senior management.
  • Employees are permitted to communicate with all staff of Muscat Municipality in order to provide the correct information to public; also they must cooperate with this staff and deliver clear information without complacency or delay.
  • Employees are not permitted to use official accounts for personal purposes that do not serve the organization`s objectives and orientations.

Content Management:

Muscat Contact Center is responsible for publishing and managing the accounts` contents in Social Media Websites through a specialized section in this regard.

Taking into account the following points:
  1. The Communication with public must characterize interactive, directed, not random or public by using traditional means of publishing, which permits the municipality to broadcast the right message to public concerned rapidly and directly.
  2. Promoting the existence of collaborative environment that is the key to create successful e-communities, engage in meaningful dialogue and contribute to a constructive engagement between government institutions and public.
  3. The Account Manager has the right to retweet or prefer what he/she might deems relevant of twitters, which does not violate the general orientation of organization, or not prevent re-twittering, which includes comments or criticisms to the body (according to the assessment of Account Manager).

Information Security:

Social Media websites like other websites have many risks, including phishing, social engineering, attacks on web applications, and thus provide the necessary protection against risks became essential and needed.

In this spirit, the security actions and measures contained in the information security policy adopted by the municipality must be taken to emphasize the following:

  1. Using secure and strong passwords for official accounts of Municipality
  2. Preventing access to unnecessary jobs and applications such as games and other applications deployed in some social media tools, with a view to avoid the risks related to protection such as spam files and accounts` phishing.
  3. Sensitizing staff the risks related to social media tools, in particular those linked to social engineering, and risk mitigation techniques.

Privacy and confidentiality:

The use of social media tools of all kinds boosts the vulnerability to privacy breaches processes, that would to be improper use of information by unauthorized persons to access the information, therefore stakeholders of account administrators must take all actions required to protect the privacy of data and information against any potential risks, and caution when sending or submitting the information to social media websites.

Publication Prohibitions:

  • Any indication or comment that contains underestimated to religious or sectarian beliefs.
  • Comments involving libel, defamation or discrimination.
  • Comments and posts that support or abet illegal activities.
  • Comments and posts that contravene any legal rights or intellectual property rights.
  • Spreading false and unreliable information.

In conclusion:

Social Media accounts are the other mirror to any institution; thus compliance with interaction policy mentioned above is a guarantee of work methodology in this aspect, noting that this policy is changeable h when new comes in the social media realm commensurate with the orientations and policies of Muscat Municipality.