As you will know from a previous post, I am concerned about the direction the City of Guelph has taken in monitoring official speak in social media and… ah, correcting inaccuracies where it finds them.
But if your day now includes the City of Guelph monitoring your comments online, I have to wonder how much of this strategy is also about managing official speak internally, towards staff as well — not that you can actually convince someone of something that they know not to be true — they know what they’ve seen, what they’re seeing — they don’t need help in that, but that really doesn’t matter when it comes to “official speak”.
The following is my correspondence with Ms. Hare from the City of Guelph regarding its Media Analysis program. In reading Ms. Hare’s reply to me, I was looking for something that suggested I had it all wrong. Instead, I was left thinking, wow, I really don’t see anything that goes against what I’ve been thinking and saying about what this City is doing in our cyberspace.
So, I have to say, to dismiss what I’ve been saying about this amounts to willful naiveté.
I’ve included Ms. Hare’s response to me for the sake of transparency and so as to not leave you wondering if I’ve taken her words out of context.
To be clear, the corporation we know as the City of Guelph can and does use various forums in soliciting feedback or input or in promoting its message to the public, at taxpayers’ expense — but it’s another matter entirely to probe and inject itself into the conversations citizens are having. As I have said, there are boundaries.
In a time when a tablet or a smart phone is today’s version of a pencil, the City’s monitoring of your social media activity is today’s version of parking a staffer at the table next to you while you’re talking to someone over coffee.
A few questions:
Will the City of Guelph report on and make public which social media sites it has examined and/or participated in?
Will the City of Guelph report on and make public whose comments it has logged or otherwise examined in social media?
Has the City of Guelph collected information from identifiable individuals without their explicit consent?
If City of Guelph Communications is as understaffed as was suggested by CAO Ann Pappert during Council’s final budget deliberations, why is the City of Guelph spending time monitoring social media sites, and why is it managing its message in forums that are not its own?
Is this what happens when an organization has determined it has to spend more time and resources managing its message?
If the City of Guelph’s monitoring of your social media posts is ultimately politically motivated, what can of worms does it open for us in Guelph and who should be accountable for that?
The thread, chronologically ordered from last to first:
From: Craig Chamberlain <email@example.com>
To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, November 23, 2012 4:16:09 PM
Sent: November 27, 2012 9:20 PM
Subject: Fw: Media Analysis
Stacey Hare, Senior Communications and Issues Management Coordinator
City of Guelph
T 519-822-1260 x 2611
From: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 11:38:42 AM
Subject: Re: Media Analysis
I’ll close with a quote from an article by Guelph Mercury’s Scott Tracey, regarding Council’s final budget deliberations December 6th, 2012: