Social Media Acceptable Use Policy

We can be found on the following social media networks:

We post messages about the services we provide to over 125,000 residents, as well as information about events and opportunities in the district.

Our aim is to raise awareness of all that the Council and North Hertfordshire have to offer.

We monitor our social media pages between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. We do not monitor or respond to posts outside of normal office working hours.

Contacting us

We try and reply to every customer query and message we receive but, due to high volumes, this is not always possible. Due to very high volumes, we do not respond to all comments made on our social media platforms, only to those where residents are asking us to deal with a service request or asking a customer service query.

We aim to initially respond to questions and requests for service within one working day. On some occasions during busy periods this may not be possible, but we will respond to you as soon as we can.

For general enquiries we recommend you contact us via our website’s Do It Online portal or using our Customer Service Centre.

In an emergency and outside of office hours, please use our emergency contact details.

If your enquiry needs further investigation or is of a sensitive nature, we may direct you to other, more suitable contact channels. This is done so that your enquiry can be answered by the most appropriate officer, as well as to ensure your data is properly handled.

During an emergency

During an emergency or during times of significant service disruption, it is our policy to post all latest service or situation updates on our website and this would be the main channel of communication that we direct customers to for information.

In this scenario we may post messages outside of our normal hours, but it is unlikely we will be able to reply to individual queries, as resources to man social media channels would be limited and may need to be diverted to other contact channels. In these instances we reserve the right to direct customers to other channels to complete their service request or query, as this will often be the most efficient and quickest way of speaking to us.

Dealing with unacceptable behaviour

Our social media accounts are managed by real people. We strive to be helpful and understand you may have frustrations with our services or those of our contractors and partners. We encourage public debate and people are free to share their views about the Council. We have no intention of stifling discussion about us as an organisation. However, we ask that you are respectful. Abuse will not be tolerated.

The vast majority of people who use social media do so with tolerance and respect, however a small minority can spoil it for everyone. This policy aims to protect our employees, councillors and residents from unacceptable use of social media. Unacceptable behaviour includes (but is not limited to) abusive or bad language, degrading remarks, or attempts to provoke or upset other users. We reserve the right to take action in relation to social media posts or messages which:

  • are abusive, harassing or threatening
  • use sexist, racist or other unacceptable language which are intended to cause concern / harm
  • are defamatory or libellous
  • may be in contempt of court
  • break any other law or incite someone else to break the law
  • contain inappropriate material (including images or video)
  • are spam.

In the event of unacceptable behaviour we will follow a set process:

  • Firstly we will record the name and handle of the account, the date, social media post and why it is unacceptable
  • We will delete or hide any posts which we view to be offensive. Following this we will usually issue a written warning, after consulting with the Communications Manager and/or the relevant Service Director. This will usually be by means of a private direct social media message in the first instance with a link to our social media policy
  • If unacceptable behaviour continues or is extreme, the Council will consider blocking the user from interacting with us on social media. After 12 months the owner of the account can appeal the decision to block. Any decision to reverse the block will be made in conjunction with the Chief Executive. We reserve the right to block any user from interacting with us on social media at any time.
  • If we block any social media user the Communications team will record the decision and make the Chief Executive aware. We may also report the matter to the Police where behaviour amounts to abuse or harassment or a criminal offence is suspected.

Additional policy information

This policy adheres to the principles set out in the Unacceptable Customer Behaviour Policy Statement, published on the Complaints page of the NHDC website. The policy states:

  • All customers will be dealt with in a fair, honest and consistent way.
  • Services are accessible to all customers. However we may restrict or change access to services when a customer behaves in an unacceptable way.
  • We will make sure that the physical and emotional safety of customers, visitors and Council employees is not at risk from any customer who behaves in an unacceptable way.
  • We will alert the Police if it is considered that there is an immediate danger to staff or customers.

Queries

Queries on this policy should be directed to pressoffice@north-herts.gov.uk.