I can’t physically get you a seat at the table as policy is formed, but I can do the next best thing. New this session of the Texas Legislature, adding value through the Texas A&M Transportation Institute by applying transparency practices to transportation policy. This effort includes:
I was interviewed for this article, which provides a case study on the use of Facebook to affect government policy. http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20160730/cyber-citizenship-using-facebook-to-engage-with-your-government
In a nutshell, that’s public service’s Twitter problem. Parody accounts are easy to make and hard to counter. To the credit of the maker of the parody account @Tulsa_Parking, the account is clearly labeled as a satire. Also, the City of Tulsa picked a response approach that is a little heavy handed and legally questionable, as the seal has been altered by the addition of the poop emoji, among other things. Tulsa Parking is so proud of the response that they pinned it to the top of their account.
The parody twitter account links to a website that carries this warning:
“This is a satire site protected by the 1st Amendment.
We are in no way affiliated with the bloodsucking parasites that are employed by the City of Tulsa
Laws on parody accounts generally are evolving and focus on consequences such as actual harm being caused. A British attempt to close a government parody account was briefly successful but then reversed. India appears to have succeeded in their attempt. Trying to close such accounts in the US raises obvious First Amendment issues. Further, Twitter is littered with government parody accounts and has formal policies on how to create and respond to parody accounts.
The Transportation Research Board has released Legal Research Digest 26: Regulations Affecting the Exercise of First Amendment Activities at Airports. This report provides an overview of the different First Amendment activities that occur at airports, the issues that generally affect them, and the legal challenges to airport policies, while laying out the history of case law.
Reference to Government Title or Position and Appearance of Official Sanction
Recommending and Endorsing Others on Social Media
Seeking Employment through Social Media
Disclosing Nonpublic Information
Official Social Media Accounts
The section on personal fundraising is particularly relevant in Texas right now, as there is a live discussion about an agency executive director who raised funds for a nonprofit activity from entities with business before that agency. Under the federal guidance, the language provides
As a general rule, fundraising solicitations over social media are permissible so long as the employee does not “personally solicit” funds from a subordinate or a known prohibited source. See 5 C.F.R. §2635.808(c)(1).
Is seeking official action by the employee’s agency;
Does business or seeks to do business with the employee’s agency;
Conducts activities regulated by the employee’s agency;
Has interests that may be substantially affected by performance or nonperformance of he employee’s official duties.
Since many contractors and industry lobbyists follow top agency officials’ personal Twitter accounts, they could still make donations and find ways to bring that to the officials’ attention, but it is a good step removed from personal solicitation.