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San Jose seeks to protect official social media accounts

Christian Colen
Flickr / Creative Commons

District 7 Councilmember Bien Doan wants council-related websites and social media accounts to be owned by the city so mailing lists and domains that residents frequent are not lost when a councilmember leaves office.

The city's Rules and Open Government committee unanimously approved his idea last week, and social media and digital property policy proposals will come to the full San Jose City Council in a couple of months.

Doan's request follows months of trying to retrieve constituent mailing lists from two District 7 website domains previously owned by the city, as well as a Facebook page. His predecessor, Maya Esparza, refused to turn them over despite multiple demands by the city clerk, city manager and attorney's office.

"We tried to exhaust every possible avenue," Doan said. "We need to take some type of action at this point."

He wants to make sure official social media and mailing list accounts are tied to a ".gov" email so it's city property.

The first-year councilmember wants to ensure these are the primary accounts used to disseminate information from those in office. Doan said he also wants the city to purchase council district website domains so that when turnover happens, the city can determine who manages them.

Deputy City Manager Lee Wilcox said the policy may not be that clear cut because there are legal barriers around the government regulating someone's personal social media usage.