The edict is in: South Carolina state employees won’t be able to LOL at work.
But the state’s new policy banning personal social media use at work won’t stop Gov. Nikki Haley from helping the people rock out to Boston’s “More Than a Feeling.”
South Carolina’s ban on social media was likely met with a collective shrug among state office denizens when it was released on Friday. It turns out most state agencies block social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter already, except for those who need to use them for work.
Many have praised Haley for her use of Facebook — bypassing the media and effectively communicating political ends without a filter. On the first day of the legislative session, Haley posted the Boston song and wrote, “Here’s a great song to my friends to get the session off to a good start!”
Occasionally, Haley’s prolific posting has stirred controversy. “I must have been good Santa gave me a Beretta PX4 Storm,” Haley wrote around Christmas. Last spring, the governor traded barbs on Facebook with Sen. Katrina Shealy, a one-time ally.
“It is kind of ironic,” said Kendra Stewart, a College of Charleston politics professor. She called the governor a well-known “Facebook queen.”
Stewart added: “It’s somewhat typical of Columbia, exempting themselves from rules they try to put on other people.”
The state doesn’t mind if government employees use social media on their own time and personal devices, said Holly Pisarik, the chairwoman of the task force that rewrote state employees’ code of conduct. Pisarik is the former director of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and is now at the Department of Social Services.
“What you do on your lunch break ... on your phone, no one is trying to curb that conduct,” Pisarik said. “The rule is really just meant to set the parameters for using state resources and non-state resources.”
The state’s code of conduct addresses far more than what employees should do on social media. It also spells out employee conduct for the acceptance and reporting of gifts and whistleblower protections, among others. The code was drafted in response to an April executive order from Haley.
“Part of restoring the public’s trust in state government — as legislators debate ethics reform — is ensuring there is a uniform code of conduct across Cabinet agencies that makes clear to state employees what they can and can’t do on state time,” Haley’s spokeswoman Chaney Adams said. “As the task force report makes clear, state employees can use social media when doing so as a part of their job — such as public information and media relations employees disseminating public information,” said Adams.
Ashley T. Caldwell, the founder of Charleston-based media marketing consultant The Modern Connection, called the state’s approach “antiquated.”
She recalled when the Army tried to ban the use of social media — the backlash inspired a more liberal approach and now the Army tells its story more effectively than ever, she said.
“Social media is so much a part of our daily lives, and to try to prohibit employees from using it, they’re going to be doing it anyway and that’s when problems come into play,” Caldwell said.
Reach Jeremy Borden at 708-5837.