N.S. Council rejects plan for social media strategy


NORTH SMITHFIELD – There’s Our North Smithfield, NS Town Info, Engage North Smithfield, Conserve Our Unique Rural Town – North Smithfield and even a page named just “North Smithfield,” all Facebook pages run by private residents with an interest in town government and happenings.

But should the town of North Smithfield have its own official page?

Councilman Douglas Osier thinks so, but he was in the minority this week in an effort to get the town to develop a comprehensive social media policy.

“There is definitely a lot of social media that takes place in this town. None of the social media is town sponsored,” Osier said at a council meeting this week. “There may come a time where there is value to having it. I think there’s merit to looking at how we craft social media.”

Council President Paul Vadenais was first to disagree.

“Maybe it’s just me being the old man but I just don’t see any value in being on social media at all,” said Vadenais. “It’s too anonymous. It could create more issues for our town than benefits that can come out of it.”

Town Administrator Gary Ezovski agreed.

“We have a policy right now. We don’t use it,” said Ezovski. “We can’t stop people from using the name ‘North Smithfield.’ You’re not going to fix what is wrong with social media by establishing a policy such as this.”

Ezovski pointed to a recent case where a Cranston city employee was terminated over a comment on a municipal site.

“I don’t want to subject our employees to that kind of bait,” said Ezovski. “People in a moment of frustration engage in nonproductive communication.”

“We do get our message out using the tools available to us,” he added.

Ezovski publishes a weekly newsletter, which can be found on the town website.

Osier said that when he moved to the community, he looked to social media to see what kind of information was available on the town.

“Whether we want to accept the reality or not, social media is out there,” said Osier. “People do use social media. We should be reaching people. I think we should have a policy.”

Osier made motion to craft a policy for review, which was seconded by Councilor Paul Zwolenski.

The motion was defeated by a 3-2 vote with Councilors Vadenais, Claire O’Hara and Terri Bartomioli voting against it.

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