GSMCON 2019: Gov't & Social Media Org.

  • Monthly webinars
  • Yearly Conference with top social platforms keynotes
  • Virtual Pass
  • Facebook Private Group
  • March 24- 26, 2020 in Seattle, WA

2019 themes:

  • Facebook Groups
  • Accessibility
  • First Amendment Issues

Facebook Groups

"Meaningful Conversations"

Facebook is making significant changes to its news feed algorithm in an effort to prioritize “meaningful” person-to-person interactions among friends and family over posts from Facebook pages. The 2018 algorithm lowered the reach of most Pages even further but, simultaneously, gave group postings more priority.

3 Types of Groups

  1. Public groups can be found by anyone who searches for them, and anyone can see who is in the group and the discussions being had there.
  2. Private and visible groups can be found by searching, but only approved members are able to see who other members are and what’s posted within the group. This was previously the “closed” group option.”
  3. Private and hidden groups (which used to be the “secret”) group option are hidden, meaning that only members and those invited can find the group, and private, so no one but members can see the group’s content.

Why we should care.

"I believe the future is private"

Facebook’s new direction to build a privacy-focused messaging platform does not bode well for pages who have already lost organic engagement on the platform. Facebook Groups, though, offer a loophole for those who are willing to put the time and effort into building out a community via the platform.

How are Gov Agencies using groups?

  • Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT)
  • Join Groups as your page or create your own
  • Promote your groups on your page
  • Meaningful interations
  • UDOT created groups based on construction projects then gives meaningful content regarding the project to the group followers, localized info and it gives people a place to vent
  • People join the group because they want the info
  • Groups are based on conversations not content. Only post when updates are relevant
  • Exclusive content in group - not posted to page


Blind/Deaf/Intellectual disabilities need to be in the conversation.

"I have become your afterthought"

Edit Alt Text


Facebook artificial intelligence adds words to describe photo

Edit the Alt Text to be more descriptive



Click 'NEXT' through filters until 'Advanced Settings' will be displayed

Closed Captioned


Automatic but CC must be turned on

Facebook Video


  • Web AIM (Accessibilty in Mind) - https://webaim.org/
  • WCAG 20.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) - https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/accessibility
  • Twitter: https://help.twitter.com/en/using-twitter/picturedescriptions
  • Instagram: https://instagrampress.com/blog/2018/11/28/creating-a-more-accessibleinstagram/


Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Talk to your legal counsel. Info provided by by Mark Weaver at GSMCON


  • Hide and delete are basically the same thing
  • If you limit Joe Citizens comments to be seen by one person - you are violating Joe Citizen's First Amendment rights and you personally could be sued

Government Forums

  • Traditional Public Forum - Town Square - People can express viewpoints
  • Limited Public Forum - Council meeting - People can express viewpoints
  • Non-Public Forum - Military Base - Cannot express viewpoints in public forum - Can be removed
  • Still an evolving area - Only a handful of court cases
  • In January 2019 the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a 2017 decision holding that government officials may not block individuals on Facebook because of their viewpoints and that Facebook is a Limited Public Forum.
  • Viewpoint Discrimination is a violation of the First Amendment
  • Davison v. Loudoun County Board of Supervisors
“I really want to hear from ANY Loudoun citizen on ANY issues, request, criticism, complement or just your thoughts.” And she encouraged Loudoun residents to contact her through her “county Facebook page.”

Speech Not Protected Under First Amendment

  1. Obscenity - Excludes damn, ass, hell
  2. Defamation - False, Assertion of Fact and Cause Damage
  3. Actual Threats - Specific
  4. Spam
  5. Illegal Activities - Committing a crime, Attempting to commit a crime, or engaging other to commit a crime
  6. Promoting Illegal Discrimination - Asking you to discriminate illegally
  7. Copyright of another

What about "Hate Speech"?????

Matal v. Tam

[The idea that the government may restrict] speech expressing ideas that offend … strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”

So what does this all mean?

  • Don't hide or delete posts that contain protected speech
  • Use Facebook's Profanity Filter in the settings - Let Facebook's AI take the heat for hiding a comment
  • DO NOT add words under the Page Moderation option - now you are hiding speech that may be protected, thus violating First Amendment Rights

Discuss with your legal counsel


New contact for Facebook: RachelHolland@fb.com


  • Is your social archiving service archiving your stories?
  • Archive Social . . . IS!!
  • Stories are viewed 15 times more than regular posts
  • Snackable content with video/visual

Press Release?

How to write a press release according to Tom Tarantino of Twitter

  1. Probably can cover the info in 280 characters
  2. Link to your website
  3. Thread tweets with more information

Mountainview Police Department on releasing info during an event/situation

  • Don't wait untill media briefing to release info
  • Messaging at least every 15 minutes
  • If you're not first, you're last
  • Actual media briefings are for answering questions


Jessica Pierson ----- jjpierson@dps.ohio.gov ----- 614.752.4331


Created with an image by William Iven - "Social Media Facebook"