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Facebook policy adopted

Town of Orchard Park employees who criticize the town or the Town Board -- on their Facebook pages better delete who their employer is before they post a message, or they could hear about it at work.

The Town Board adopted a social media policy Wednesday night that tries to separate the Town of Orchard Park from inappropriate messages on electronic media.

"We're talking about some of the crazy things that can be done on Facebook; we don't want the town to be associated with that," said Councilman Eugene Majchrzak.

The policy says if an employee has a Facebook or similar electronic media account, and the employee decides to send or use "vulgar, profane, inappropriate and/or sexual messages DELETE any and ALL references to your relationship with the Town of Orchard Park."

"We don't care what they do on Facebook. We just don't want the town to be associated with whatever they're doing," Majchrzak said.

Majchrzak and Councilman David Kaczor, the only two members of the board attending the regular meeting, said employees are not to be using town computers and electronic devices for personal use. But the policy governs what they do at home. The social media policy will be added to the Personal Policy Manual.

The councilmen said the policy is similar to a policy in another municipality, and the town attorney adapted it for Orchard Park.

The policy states: "If you wish to denigrate, criticize or gossip about any individual including but not limited to those associated with the Town of Orchard Park, then you are expected to remove any reference to your association with the Town of Orchard Park from your Facebook or similar electronic media account."

"We don't want an employee to connect themselves with the Town of Orchard Park," Majchrzak said, adding, "unless, of course, everything they do on Facebook is on the up and up. What we're trying to do is avoid being connected with something on Facebook that is not."

Kaczor said if an employee violates the policy, the matter probably would be referred to the Ethics Committee for review.

"They would look at it to see if it is something that is appropriate or not appropriate, and that would be decided, and how it would be dealt with, at that time," he said.

The councilmen said the policy does not infringe on an employee's First Amendment rights to free expression. The policy states the town does not censure the ability to communicate, and supports an individual's right to communicate in any form.

"The Town of Orchard Park believes, however, that it has the right to limit the use of the Town of Orchard Park name and identification items associated with or provided by the Town of Orchard Park," the policy states.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com