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Butler County Enacts Social Media Policy For Employees

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BUTLER, Pa. (KDKA) -- Social media is everywhere, at work and at home.

But employers often regulate social media use at work, which is exactly what Butler County is doing.

"So, I think this is the county kind of catching up with the times," Commissioner Leslie Osche, chair of the Butler County Commission, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.

County commissioners are adopting a policy to dictate how its 600 county employees use social media.

"We would simply expect our people in their professional capacity to act on social media the way in which we would expect you to conduct yourself if you are here in person or in writing or in email," says Osche. "Same thing, just a different media."

The two-page policy states county equipment is to be used only for legitimate work, not for personal chatting, messaging, or blogging.

And in their professional capacity, county employees cannot swear, use vulgarities, or other inappropriate language or threaten, harass, or transmit obscene materials, including racist or sexist remarks that create a hostile working environment.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

It's one thing to regulate county employees on social media when they're in county offices, or on county equipment, and working on county time.

But it's quite another to try to regulate what they do at home, on their own time, and their own devices.

The commissioners insist they are not infringing on First Amendment rights of county employees outside the workplace.

"Are they using county equipment? Were they doing it on county time? Were they doing it in the representation of a county role? Those are the things we would be looking at," says Commissioner Kevin Boozel.

So outside the workplace?

Delano: "They're free to be vulgar, sexist, racist, all, whatever?"

Boozel: "They are employees, but they are also an individual."

Still, all three say the same thing.

"Think about what you're posting, because whatever it is, good or bad, because if you have regrets later, unfortunately, it's on there forever," notes Commissioner Kim Geyer.

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