SCDOT recognizes the importance of communicating with citizens, businesses, and visitors via social media. As a government agency, SCDOT must balance comment moderation with the First Amendment rights of the commenters.
Limited Public Forum
SCDOT’s social media sites, including online forums, are Limited Public Forums. Speech restrictions are permissible as long as they are both viewpoint neutral and reasonable in light of the purpose of the forum. Any restrictions cannot be arbitrary and capricious; they must follow established guidelines that are publicly posted by SCDOT. Comment deletion should not be the standard policy.
Posting of Social Media Policy on Social Media Sites
SCDOT will establish guidelines for the moderation of comments on SCDOT social media sites. These guidelines must be publicly posted and should include criteria for comment moderation and blocking users from further comments. These guidelines will be in addition to the usage and commenting policies of each particular social media site used by SCDOT.
When an SCDOT social media administrator identifies a comment that does not comply with SCDOT’s Social Media Comment Moderation Policy, he or she may remove the comment.
SCDOT social media moderators will differentiate between prohibited categories of speech and protected viewpoints. If there is any question as to a comment’s status, the Communications Office should consult with the Office of Chief Counsel.
Repeated and / or serious violations of SCDOT’s Social Media Comment Moderation Policy may result in SCDOT blocking the commenter from further participation on the SCDOT social media site. Before blocking a commenter, the Communications Office shall consult with SCDOT’s Office of Chief Counsel, which will review the circumstances and advise as to the appropriateness of the action. Certain circumstances may require the immediate blocking of a commenter. In these cases, the Communications Office shall consult with the Office of Chief Counsel as soon as is practicable.
SCDOT should retain all records and copies of deleted material. Additionally, circumstances surrounding blocking a user should be documented and retained.