Social Media Policy

The Port’s social media accounts were created as a limited public forum to provide information and communicate about Port programs, services, issues, events, and activities to the public and our agency partners. The Port uses its chosen social media accounts primarily for outgoing communication to keep the public informed. While comments are welcomed, social media users are advised with this policy that the Port generally does not respond to comments. The Port may, however, respond to questions regarding the post. The Port will not engage in debate, but may respond to questions and provide facts. Interaction by or with the Port on its social media accounts (including, but not limited to, comments, questions, likes, favorites, shares, retweets, follows, etc.) shall not be considered an endorsement by the Port.

If the Port determines that a specific social media platform is ineffective or is not feasible to maintain, the Port reserves the right to deactivate its social media account(s).

Public Comment & Moderation Policy

The comments and opinions expressed on the Port’s social media accounts by other social media users are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Port and/or its employees. Those commenting on the Port’s social media account are fully responsible for the content of their comment(s).

Port of Bellingham social media accounts serve as a limited public forum. All content posted on Port social media is subject to monitoring and limitation at the sole discretion of the Port. The Port encourages use of the comments function to share thoughts and ask questions as they relate to the topic being presented, and expect comments to be relevant and courteous. By default, commenting is allowed on Port social media accounts, however, some departments may opt out of making those comments visible. Comments will not be edited by the Port of Bellingham or its staff. However, where commenting is visible, the Port of Bellingham reserves the right to hide and/or remove a comment or post from its social media accounts which:

  • Is not related to the particular post being commented upon.
  • Contains vulgar, offensive, threatening or harassing language, personal attacks or unsupported accusations
  • Contains obscene or sexual content or links to obscene or sexual content
  • Promotes, fosters or perpetuates discrimination on the basis of creed, color, age, religion, gender, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation
  • Consists of illegal activity, or suggests or encourages illegal activity
  • Promotes or advertises a business or commercial transaction
  • Contains political statements, including comments that endorse or oppose political candidates or ballot propositions, are prohibited under state law (RCW 42.52.180)
  • Contains information that may tend to compromise the safety or security of the public or public systems
  • Violates intellectual property rights, copyrights, or the legal ownership interest of another party, including, but not limited to infringement of a copyright, trademark, or any registered mark.
  • Violates the social media platform’s applicable terms and conditions, statement of rights and responsibilities, etc.

Comments that are removed will remain in the Port Social Media Archive. Even when deleted, by a non-Port author or by the Port based on the criteria above, comments may be subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act, RCW 42.56 et. seq. (see below).

Notice Requirements

Communications made through the Port’s social media accounts will in no way constitute a legal or official notice of comment to the Port of Bellingham or any official or employee of the Port of Bellingham for any purpose.

The Port of Bellingham’s social media accounts are not the avenue to submit public records requests. If you would like to request records of the Port you can submit a Formal Records Request in accordance with the Port’s adopted Public Records Policy.

Official notices or inquiries related to a specific Port project should be directed to the appropriate department or contact person

Timely review

We recognize that the internet is a medium unbound by regular business hours and comments are welcome at any time. Given the need to manage Port resources, however, comments will generally be reviewed only during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Questions posted in comments sections may or may not be reviewed quickly or receive a timely answer. Inappropriate comments made by non-Port authors may or may not be removed in a timely manner.

Public Records and Retention

Port of Bellingham social media accounts are subject to Washington State Public Records Act RCW 42.56 et. seq., and as such, any comments, posts, and/or other engagement on or with the Port’s social media accounts by other social media users are retained by the Port in accordance with Washington State public records retention laws and may be disclosed to third parties. Subject to the laws of the state of Washington and applicable court rules, the Port of Bellingham reserves the right to modify or delete its own social media content at any time. If and/or when this occurs, the Port of Bellingham will do so in accordance with Washington State public records retention laws.