Note: The LWVUS communications team has written and received approval for the first version of LWV Online: Web, Blogs and Social Networking Guidance for state and local Leagues. While not official LWVUS policy, these guidelines are intended to provide support for state and local Leagues as they establish a presence online.
The following guidelines are intended to help protect both the writer and the League she or he represents (Local, State, and National) from unintentionally harming the League brand, name or reputation. Within reason and by following these guidelines, Leagues should feel armed with the confidence and freedom needed to begin experimenting with a Website, blog and other social media.
For any Web post, Blog entry, Facebook post, Tweet, etc., League writers must:
1. Maintain a good reputation. Reflect the League values of civility, respect for others, and nonpartisanship in all writing.
2. Speak with “One Voice.” Know and be faithful to the League’s positions. Be careful to never use the name of the League when expressing an opinion contrary to a League position. Make sure you have authority to speak on behalf of your League and that all content has been properly vetted through your League’s established approval process.
3. Remain nonpartisan. When in doubt, consult the League’s nonpartisan policy: The League is nonpartisan in that it never supports or opposes any political party or candidate. The League may, however, support or oppose particular ballot measures in line with positions adopted as a result of study and/or consensus reached on program issues. Individuals within the League are encouraged to actively support the political parties or candidates of their choice unless they hold sensitive League positions. Each League board adopts its own nonpartisan policy which interprets for its members and the community any restrictions it places on the political activities of its board members.
4. Develop a credible voice through engagement, humility, authenticity and transparency. Respond to legitimate user/member/reader concerns in a timely manner, and make sure contact info—an email or a link back to the League’s contact page on its website—is readily accessible.
5. Brand your site with an appropriate and official League logo.
6. Use the full name of your League. Whenever creating a user-name or an account online—such as a Facebook Group or Page, or a MySpace, Flickr, YouTube or Twitter account, be sure to specify which League you represent by using the full name and state of your League. For instance, “League of Women Voters of [town/county/state].” “League of Women Voters” or “LWV” may be confused with other Leagues or LWVUS; use your League’s full name and state so your members know which group to join or which page to follow.
7. Use common sense and good judgment. Refrain from writing, posting, blogging or tweeting anything, including photos or video, that could be perceived as reflecting partisan, sexist, gender, sexual orientation, racial, religious, ageist, ethnic or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish the League’s reputation or credibility.
8. Protect confidential information and relationships. What we do on social networks should be presumed to be publicly available to anyone. Avoid identifying or discussing private citizens, readers, or members unless you have their permission. Remember that League websites and other social media are not restricted to League members, and as such, any information pertinent only to League members should be restricted to Members Only sections of websites, or private, password-protected or invitation-only blogs.
9. Protect your privacy and resources. Never post personal information online. Criminals can piece information together from different sites to impersonate you or someone you know, or re-set passwords. Criminals can also send “phishing” emails that appear to come from a friend or other trusted source—these emails can even appear to come from another League. Never click on a link unless you are absolutely sure who it came from, and be wary of emails that say there is a “problem” with one of your accounts. These links could take you to sites that look exactly like Facebook or Twitter, except when you log-in, your password is copied and used to hack into your account, or to launch a virus that can infect your computer or website.
10. Heed security warnings and pop-ups. If your security software sends you a message like, “A process is attempting to do ryxe.exe. Do you want to allow this?” – never say “yes” unless you know these actions are safe.
11. Respect Copyrights and Fair Use. Always give proper credit for others’ work, and double check that you have the right to use something with attribution before you publish.