The Colorado State Attorney General’s office issued an advisement via e-mail last week concerning official use of Facebook pages and how it might put state agencies and higher education institutions in a legal pickle.
Colorado doesn’t have any laws on the books disallowing indemnity, but the general policy is not to approve it.
Metro’s policy is similar.
“Whenever indemnification is in a contract, we have issues with that,” said George Middlemist, associate vice president for administration and finance.
“We try to work through it with the company to get that out, that’s kind of our stance,” he said.
The risks of indemnifying Facebook are low, Middlemist said.
“There’s not a lot of private information on Facebook,” he said. “When you’re a fan of a page, you’re just a fan. It doesn’t really contain any personal information, there’s no confidential information, there’s no grades, there’s no Social Security numbers. There’s not those sorts of things,” Middlemist said.
As far as what will happen to Metro’s existing Facebook pages, there is no clear mandate yet, but the administration is discouraging the creation of any more.
“I think, right now, they’re certainly not ordering to take the pages down. We’re waiting for that more formal communication before we do anything,” Middlemist said.
A Facebook search came up with 128 Metro pages. An official count of college pages was not available.
“Until we get a little bit better clarification, we’re not going to take down any of the pages that we have. It’s a very important tool for us to be able to communicate with our student population, and also to get good feedback on things that are working and that aren’t working,” he said.
“In Metro’s case, we’re sort of going to play the waiting game,” Middlemist said.
[poll id="4"] In terms of the rest of Colorado’s agencies and higher education institutions, a Facebook blackout could have big implications.
“I know CDOT has a page, and it’s certainly a good resource for road closure information, that kind of stuff,” Middlemist said. “That’s a big resource to lose.”
At the time of publication, no official position on the matter had been handed down by the Colorado Attorney General, who’s office refused to comment, citing attorney-client privilege.
“We’re certainly negotiating with Facebook,” said Kevin Edwards, central contracts unit manager for the State Controller’s office.
“But, in the meantime, if anything happens, whoever setup the accounts are personally liable for all damages because there’s no appropriation set aside for that. It’s a risk, that’s basically what we’re telling folks,” he said.