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40 between the importance of a goal and its perceived effective- to keep track of changes in this dynamic environment ness. In a few cases, there also appeared to be a disconnect and to adapt accordingly. between stated importance and effectiveness. For example, agencies considered social media applications to be most effective for distributing real-time and general service infor- Social Media Policies mation; these attributes did not rank among the most impor- tant for agencies on average. Although the practice is not universal, many public agencies have adopted social media policies to provide guidance for Although social media channels have users in all demo- addressing these issues. Researchers at the Center for Tech- graphic groups, survey respondents were especially likely to nology in Government identified eight common elements in use these applications to reach everyday riders, young adults government social media policies: and students. Consistent with the way agencies reported using these platforms, they also rated social media most effective Employee access--Agencies usually manage access for communicating with these groups and the vast majority either by restricting the number or type of employees used Twitter and Facebook to do so. At the other end of who can access social media sites or by limiting the the spectrum, agencies considered social media to be least types of sites that employees can access. effective for reaching seniors, people with disabilities, and Account management--Many agencies required the low-income communities. Note that the survey did not define chief information officer and/or the communications such market groups as everyday riders, young, adults, and officer to oversee social media accounts. low-income communities, and agencies may have interpreted Acceptable use--Agencies are struggling to define the them differently when responding. lines between personal, professional, and official agency use of social networking sites. Employee conduct--Most agencies referred to existing Barriers to Using Social Media policies for employee conduct, although a few addressed some behaviors specific to social media, such as the need Industry experts and survey respondents identified a series of for transparency. barriers to using social media. These included: Content--Most agencies tried to maintain some level of control over online content, either by assigning man- Resource requirements--Agencies responding to the agement responsibility or retaining the right to review survey reported that staff availability was the greatest content. barrier to adopting social media. Security--Most policies echoed agency Internet security Managing employee access--As the line between pri- guidelines, although a few specifically emphasized the vate and professional communications blurs, public- and importance of password control. private-sector agencies are having to address employee Legal issues--While some policies simply advised use of social media. employees to follow all applicable laws, several focused Responding to online criticism--Survey respondents on records retention and others required sites to post expressed concern that social media would increase criti- specific disclaimers. cism from frustrated riders and disgruntled employees. User conduct--About a dozen policies included rules of Accessibility--Although Internet accessibility for conduct for readers and commenters, including restric- people with disabilities has improved substantially over tions on offensive language. the past few years, social media applications have lagged, and their heavy reliance on graphics, videos, and user- Among the agencies responding to the survey, only 27% had generated content has created accessibility challenges. a social media policy, but more than half (58%) had one in Security--Information technology professionals and development. Internet security experts warn that using social media could increase an organization's exposure to a range of cyber threats, from spam to malware. Resource Requirements Archiving and records retention--Industry analysts believe social media will soon become subject to record- Most agencies indicated that the marketing and communica- keeping and disclosure rules. tions departments were responsible for generating content for User privacy--Although public agencies generally social media applications, either alone or with other depart- have privacy policies governing collection and use of ments. Agency responses were analyzed based on operating personal information on their own websites, social media setting (large urban versus small urban/rural). As might be sites on third-party platforms are typically governed by expected, large urban agencies devoted more staff resources the privacy policy of the application. to social media than those operating in smaller environments. Changing social media landscape--As the social uni- More than half of the large urban agencies responding to this verse expands, transit agencies will have to work harder question allocated at least 40 hours of staff time per month