Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 15, 2013

Peru considers Facebook ban for employees

Officials say policy would deter negative posts about city

By Carson Gerber
Tribune staff writer

— PERU — The Peru Board of Works Monday considered banning city employees from using Facebook on government-owned computers, arguing there is an “unrecordable amount of time” wasted on the social media site.

Peru Mayor Jim Walker said barring Facebook would increase productivity. He said it would also deter employees from posting false information about city business or writing derogatory statements about the city.

“We’re trying to limit that kind of activity,” he said.

Peru city attorney Bill Berkshire suggested any employee who posts negative comments about the city on Facebook while at work should be disciplined.

“I don’t think you should have a job if you do that,” he said.

City policy currently prohibits the use of computers for private purposes. Violating the policy could result in disciplinary action, including termination.

Walker said banning Facebook would clarify the policy and ensure employees don’t use it.

The board also discussed barring employees from all social media sites, including Twitter and instant messaging.

“I don’t want us to turn into the Gestapo or anything,” Walker said. “But with tight budgets, people need to do the job they’re paid to do.”

He noted the Peru Police Department would be exempt from the ban. He said police routinely use the website during investigations.

Berkshire said administrators who update the city’s Facebook page would also need exemption from the policy. He said he would look into Facebook policies used in other cities that may help the board draft its own social media guidelines.

Carson Gerber may be reached by phone at 765-854-6739.