socialnetworkingThe BBC has reported that one council worker in Wales was dismissed for misusing social media, while many others were warned of their conduct in 2012.

The figures, obtained in a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by BBC Wales’ Welsh-language news website, Newyddion Ar-lein, revealed that Powys Council sacked one worker and gave final written warnings to two others, while Gwynedd and Torfaen also reported three cases each.

It was revealed that the 14 cases of misuse by council staff recorded in 2012 included suggestive comments, threats, and criticism of the authorities concerned.

Powys Council recorded three cases of misuse of Facebook, with one employee being immediately suspended and later dismissed for “sending messages of an inappropriate and suggestive nature to a learner through Facebook”.

The two other employees received final written warnings for their actions. It was revealed that one posted “worrying comments” on the social media networking site, while the other was warned for “bringing the council into possible disrepute by posting inappropriate comments”.

Powys Council said in a statement:

“The use of social media within the council is limited during core working hours unless staff members request access for business purposes to update information for the public.

“In which case, they have to submit a business case to our communications team for approval.”

There were also three cases of misuse in Torfaen recorded in 2012; however the council said that it would not release details, claiming it would be “contrary to the principles of the Data Protection Act”, while In Gwynedd, three council employees received a written warning for disparaging the council on Facebook.

Furthermore, there were disciplinary procedures in Swansea after a council employee “made threats and inappropriate comments” on Facebook about other staff, and in Bridgend, one staff member was disciplined for misuse of Twitter outside the workplace.

In addition, there were also cases recorded in Ceredigion, Caerphilly and Carmarthenshire in 2012, although ten Welsh councils said they had recorded no misuse of social media last year.

Commenting on the findings, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Taxpayers want to know that council staff are using their time properly and getting value for local residents’ cash.

“Whilst social media can be useful for letting residents know what the council are up to and for increasing transparency, it’s important that it’s not misused.”

He added:

“If council staff are posting inappropriate comments on social media accounts then appropriate action must be taken.”