Public Officials, Social Networking, and the Unmapped New Public Square

  • nov 2010
  • Mark
  • 1
  • 2713

The use of online social networks by local public officials has drawn the ire of local governments, some of whom have gone so far as to bar public officials from social networks for fear of violating campaign finance, open meeting, freedom of information, and government ethics laws. These objections overlook the unique nature of civic social networks as an emerging political institution, characterized by a high degree of transparency and intense public pressure for accountability. The nature of this new institution renders the alarmist reaction overblown. Civic social networks are the new public square, and local governments should embrace them as consistent with the goals of open government and ethics laws.