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Queens assemblyman pushes for more active 311 social media presence

A Queens assemblyman wants 311's social media team to step up when it comes to engaging to the needs of New Yorkers.

State Assemb. Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach) sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday requesting the 311's Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts handle complaints instead of issuing automated responses. "What is the purpose of the agency having Twitter if they're not going to use it?" he asked.

Goldfeder had a personal incident with the 311 and the city's parks department Twitter accounts on July 5 that prompted him to write to the mayor. The assemblyman tweeted at both agencies, inquiring about beach access and lifeguard information, but received the automated response.

Shaleem Thompson, 311's communications director, said the agency's social media team, which operates weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. handles select complaints, such as "park maintenance, potholes, streetlights, heat and hot Water." It added "open/leaking fire hydrant" complaints, to the list Monday.

"Digitally engaging with our customers is a majority priority for NYC 311 and we are excited that we can provide a quick and easy way for them to submit their complaints on social media," Thompson said in a statement.

She added that the agency does not issue automated replies on Twitter and tailors each message to New Yorker's needs.

Goldfeder said it was unacceptable for the social media accounts to operate on a different schedule than the 24/7 hotline and urged the city to improve its online outreach.

"I make it a point to personally respond to questions or concerns directed at me on Twitter any time, day or night," he said. "Every city agency that claims to have a presence on Twitter should be held to that same standard."


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