Social media offers tremendous opportunities in the public sector, but determining what is legal and ethical in the social media realm is a sticky situation. To help government officials, the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law is releasing a new book called Social Media and Local Governments: Navigating the New Public Square.

The book is co-authored by local government attorney at Ancel Glink, Julie Tappendorf, and the Dean of Touro Law School, Patricia Salkin. In the practical guide, Tappendorf and Salkin describe ways for government entities to utilize social media to communicate with the public, interested stakeholders and each other. The book also warns users of the associated risks.

“Social media is a great way to engage the community and promises greater transparency,” says Tappendorf. “However, local governments must consider the reliability and source of posted information, professional ethical obligations and a host of other legal issues.”

In addition, Social Media and Local Governments provides practical information to government attorneys and officials in their use of social media in the government context. The authors provide concrete examples of how communities across the country implement social media; explore First Amendment issues, Sunshine Laws, copyright and privacy concerns, among other legal considerations; examine public employee usage of social media, whether at or away from the workplace; and explore ethical issues faced by public issues.