Social Media Policy


  1. Overview
  2. What we will remove
  3. Action we will take
  4. Council responses
  5. The pre-election period


South Tyneside Council social channels provide information on news, events and Council services for residents, visitors and businesses.

We want our social media channels to be safe spaces where we welcome feedback and engagement on our posts and where everyone can connect with us and each other in a friendly and informative manner.

We have a zero-tolerance policy towards:

  • Hate speech
  • Discrimination
  • Violence or aggression towards staff and elected members

Our followers include a range of ages and backgrounds, including children. Be considerate of other people who may see your comment.

What we will remove

We reserve the right to remove, in whole or in part, posts that:

  • Are abusive, threatening, use intimidation or are discriminatory in language and content against any individual or group, including protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity status, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation
  • Use name-calling and / or personal attacks directed towards our employees, elected members or other platform users
  • Use profanity, swearing, and / or sexually explicit language or images
  • Are in violation of any intellectual property rights, including copyright
  • Are in violation of any law or regulation or promoting illegal activity
  • Use the same message (or small variations of it) posted multiple times by individuals or groups, otherwise known as spamming or spam
  • Are controversial, irrelevant, off-topic, or baiting, otherwise known as trolling
  • Contain promotional material, including links to external websites and promotions

Any posts that are discriminatory and/or incite violence or include harmful content will be reported to the police and the social media platform.

Action we will take

We have automatic profanity filters on our social media pages.

Comments which include a keyword in the filter will automatically be hidden so that it doesn't appear on the council's page.

If content relates to the list above, it will be hidden or deleted, depending upon the severity.

We will block access to social media pages if users do not amend or remove abusive content or continue to post such content.

We will try to contact the poster with a link to the social media policy, stating which part of the policy we believe they have broken and ask them to amend their post. However, depending upon social media account settings this is not always possible.

Screenshots of hidden or deleted posts will be taken and legal action considered, including reporting to the police.

If you have been blocked you may write to outline why you think it shouldn't have been. Email describing why you should be un-blocked.

Previous posts will then be reviewed by a staff member outside of the social media team to assess whether the poster can be unblocked. The reviewer's decision is final. 

As standard, we do not disable comments from posts. However it is at the Council's discretion to disable comments from posts if this is the right action to take to protect the public and employees.

Council responses

The Council tries to read all comments posted on its social media sites and will reply where relevant and appropriate.

The Council may choose to answer questions individually or in one overall response on posts with a large volume of comments. We may choose not to reply at all, depending on the situation.

Supplementary questions will be responded to as appropriate, but the Council may decide to stop responding if the person's actions start to become provocative.

The Council may choose to reply to commentators 'offline'. This could be through email or direct message.

It may also encourage people to contact customer services so their question can be answered fully or may sign-post to an online form or online content, where relevant.

Pages are monitored during the working week and responses are posted during that time.

Pages are also monitored out of hours for urgent updates. We aim to get back to messages and respond to direct post queries within three working days.

We're here to help as much as we can. Our team who manages our social media channels are humans too, and we may occasionally make mistakes. We will not tolerate intimidation or abusive messages towards our staff.

Please communicate with us with courtesy, consideration, and patience while we try our upmost to make our social media channels the best place for information and support for all our residents, visitors and businesses across South Tyneside.

The pre-election period

The pre-election period in the United Kingdom is the period between an announced election and the final election results.

During this time, there are restrictions placed on the Council on the publicity messages it can issue.

Publicity, including social media and press releases issued to print and broadcast, should not include controversial issues or report views, proposals or recommendations in such a way that identifies them with individual members, groups of members parties or candidates.

It is acceptable for the Council to respond in appropriate circumstances to events and legitimate service enquiries provided answers are factual and not political.

During the pre-election period, we will continue to publish important service announcements using social media but may remove responses if they breach pre-election publicity rules. 

All social media platforms run by South Tyneside Council staff are subject to the rules of the pre-election period. 

This is in accordance with the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity (Local Government Act 1986).

Please note, restrictions of the pre-election period apply to South Tyneside Council. They do not apply to content issued by party groups or individual members which are clearly identified as political releases.