Legislation that will allow members of a local agency to communicate with constituents via social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter was signed last week by Governor Newsom. AB 992 by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco) was amended late in the legislative session to add several safeguards which removed CNPA’s opposition to the measure. Specifically, the bill will:
- Provide that the Brown Act’s prohibition on serial communications shall not be construed to prevent a member of a local agency’s legislative body from engaging in communications on an internet-based social media platform to answer questions, provide information to the public, or solicit information from the public regarding matters in its jurisdiction provided that members do not discuss among themselves business of a specific nature within their jurisdiction.
- Prohibit members of a legislative body from responding directly to any communication on an Internet-based social media platform regarding a matter within their subject matter jurisdiction from another member of the legislative body.
- Define “discuss among themselves” to mean communications made, posted, or shared on an Internet-based social media platform between members of a legislative body, including comments or use of digital icons made by other members.
- Define “internet-based social media platform” to mean an online service that is open and accessible to the public.
- Define “open and accessible to the public” to mean the members of the general public have the ability to access and participate on the platform without approval by the platform or any other person, including any forum and chatroom, and cannot be blocked from doing so, except when the platform determines that an individual violated its protocols or rules.
- Repeal its provisions on January 1, 2026.
The bill becomes effective on January 1, 2021.