Thursday, 21 February 2013





MS. BISARO: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. With the advent, acceptance and increasing use of social media worldwide, governments are becoming involved using Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and other social media sites to promote information sharing and to communicate with residents.

Our government has also joined the social media trend. GNWT websites and government Facebook pages are popping up in more and more places. This is encouraging, but have we as a government ensured that there are consistent guidelines and policies for GNWT sponsored social media. It doesn't seem that way. It's another case of us joining the crowd, moving too fast and not considering the effect and the implications of our actions.

Let me give you an example. Recently I discovered a GNWT sponsored and developed Facebook page with a number of likes on the page. For those of you Facebook luddites, a like indicates support for the person, business or organization. A like on a Facebook page is prominently displayed and can influence readers to support the person or the organization or to use the business. It can also be a selling tool. I've found private businesses liked on more than one GNWT sponsored Facebook page. This is inappropriate, Mr. Speaker.

A government must not only be impartial, but must be seen to be objective and impartial. As a government, we should not be showing favouritism to any one business over another. Additionally, there's the issue of responding to and making comments within the social media sites. Any comments posted on a GNWT Facebook page or webpage reflect the government's view. Are the administrators of these pages given any guidelines on how to respond to comments, post comments and so on.

There seems to be a gap in policy development here. Facebook pages are initiated throughout the government and by many different departments, but do we as a government have any policies or guidelines to assist those people in their development of webpages and Facebook pages. It appears not. We often use contractors to do things like develop Facebook pages and websites. Do they have any policies or guidelines to follow? It appears not.

We have a chief information officer and we have an information policy gap needing to be fixed. This is a job for his office. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Ms. Bisaro.

QUESTION 91-17(4):

MS. BISARO: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are addressed to the Minister of Finance. I would like to follow up on my statement and ask him questions about whether or not we have policies in regards to our use of social media. I know we have some policies that apply to individual employees. For instance, Facebook is blocked on employees' computers. Cell phone use, I know, is listed. There is a policy on cell phone use. I'd like to know from the Minister, in terms of the development of Facebook sites and websites and in terms of the maintenance of Facebook sites and websites, do we have any policies or any guidelines that people follow?

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The honourable Minister of Finance, Mr. Miltenberger.

HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Apparently none that I'm aware of.

MS. BISARO: I didn't hear the answer. Thank you very much, colleagues. To the Minister, I would like to know whether or not this is something that as a government, I feel that we need to remain impartial and I would like to know from the Minister whether or not he thinks there's a policy gap here and, if so, is he willing to do something about developing some guidelines and some policies to handle Facebook sites and websites?

HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: I'll commit to review the matter with the appropriate officials in the departments and if there is deemed to be a policy gap then we'll, of course, take the steps to close that gap.

MS. BISARO: Thanks to the Minister for that commitment. I appreciate that. In the absence of anything right now, if we have Facebook sites which have likes on them, a particular business that has been liked which indicates that the GNWT likes this business and not another one, for instance, what is the Minister going to do to try and monitor Facebook sites and website that we have that may have particular preferences for a business or organization?

HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: I'll commit to put this matter on the table for Cabinet strategy tomorrow, and where all the senior officials are, as well, and we'll discuss the best way to make sure that we are impartial in all the appropriate areas as it pertains to government policy.

MS. BISARO: I appreciate the commitment from the Minister. I guess I would just like to say I appreciate this is coming before senior management and Cabinet. I'd like to suggest to the Minister that we don't have to reinvent the wheel. There are lots of governments out there that, no doubt, have policies and guidelines, so I would suggest to the Minister that we copy them more than develop our own.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. No question there. Mr. Miltenberger.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the

Member's sage advice and I will keep that in mind as we move forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger.

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