Federal employees warned not to mix politics and social media

We’re all aware of the impact that social media has had in the workplace and now it seems that Federal employees have been issued with new guidance about the use of social media while at work, from the Office of Special Counsel. A document has been issued recently by the OSC telling employees how not to get on the wrong side of the 1939 Hatch Act with their use of social media. One of the most important points of that law is controlling political activities of federal employees, so that for example, they are not allowed to influence elections.

Guidelines apply either at work in a federal workspace, or within work hours and while employees are able to use Facebook, Twitter and the like outside work, whilst at work they must not engage in any political activity on social media sites. An article by Brian Kalish over on NextGov tells how whilst working federal employees must not write on blogs in support, or otherwise, for a political party and they must not “like”, be a “friend”, or “fan”, of a political party, group, or candidate.

However outside work hours or away from federal premises they are allowed any of these activities.
Facebook or Twitter accounts must not be made in their professional capacities but solely for personal use. There are some strange anomalies however as the report says that employees on Facebook for example, may answer the profile question that asks about political views, because this is not viewed as political activity.

Federal employees are also not able to solicit or receive political contributions and this also stands with using social media for the same, including posting links to contribution pages. These are just some of the guidelines laid down by the OSC and if you want to see more go to nextgov.com. What do you think of the new guidelines laid down for federal employees? We’d be interested to know so why not send us a comment.