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Board sets February referendum date

City to create page on Facebook

HASTINGS - The city of Hastings wants to be your friend. "Accept" or "Ignore?"

That question could soon be coming to Facebook users across Hastings as the city gets set to roll out its own Facebook page.

Facebook is a social-networking website primarily used by individuals and allows users to set up profiles with photos and information about themselves. You connect with other people by becoming their "friend." More recently, it's been expanded to allow businesses and groups to set up profile pages.

City Administrator Dave Osberg said the page would be used as a communication tool between the city and its residents, easily disseminating information about things like snow emergencies, community events and public meetings

"It's endless, the amount of information you can get out in a timely fashion," Osberg said.

The difference between the city's existing website and its Facebook page comes when looking at how they're accessed. You have to go to the city's website in your browser to see the information that's posted there; it's more of an active way of seeking out information.

If you were a "friend" or a "fan" of the city on Facebook, however, when new information gets posted to its page, it would show up in your "News Feed," a feature on the site that shows updates as they happen; making it a more passive way of getting information.

The Hastings City Council gave its general approval of the idea at Monday night's meeting.

Osberg said it's a rare occurrence for him to present something to the council with the potential power of Facebook that is totally free. There's no cost to the city to set up its page; the only cost would come in the staff time for whoever updates it.

Some work within city hall still needs to happen on policies and procedures for the Facebook page, but the site is likely to be live within the next month.

The social networking site has grown in recent years from something used primarily by high school and college students, to a site being used by professional adults and businesses.

"It's an information resource I think the public would very much appreciate," Osberg said.