Social networks connect people, often those who share the same interests and/or activities or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Interagency and intergovernmental social networking sites can promote cooperation across government. Internal social networking sites can establish connections across traditionally stove-piped and geographically dispersed organizations. Public social networking sites can be used to further promote government information and services. By setting-up a Facebook page, for example, government can provide information resources and staff interaction with members of the public who are interested in a facet of an agency's work and mission. Doing so expands the government's outreach capabilities and ability to interact.
The primary (and easy to remember) rule is that if a federal employee shoots video or takes a picture on government time with a government-supplied camera, the "work" (the image/video) belongs to the employer (the federal government).
Photo credits may be required.
Below is how Interior credits photos on social media (Bureaus can create their own standard):
There are many benefits and risks in maintaining a public blog on a Government website, with the top risk being the potential legal liabilities. Although blogs are generally meant to be informal, DOI blogs are official Government communications and must be treated as such. Their content must be controlled to ensure that it is in keeping with the mission and reputation of the authoring agency.
Microblogs consist of short entries (usually 140 characters or fewer) and are generally posted through third-party sites such as Twitter.
It's important to be thoughtful with what you post on the web and social media and how you phrase it. While the following list isn't extensive and does not include all possible scenarios, it may be used to guide decision making when it comes to what to link to or share. Consult with your Bureau Ethics Office for more details as some bureaus have additional restrictions in place.
Comments received through two-way blogs must be reviewed by the bureau (or DOI if it is a Departmental blog). Each blog must have clear and defensible standards for comments. All sites that allow visitors to post comments should make it clear whether comments will be moderated and should include a disclaimer. For example:
“We welcome your comments and hope that our conversations here will be courteous. You are fully responsible for the content of your comments.
“We do not discriminate against any views, but we reserve the right to delete any of the following:
- off-topic comments
- violent, vulgar, obscene, profane, hateful, or racist comments
- comments that threaten or defame any person or organization
- The violation of the privacy of another individual
- solicitations, advertisements, or endorsements of any financial, commercial, or non-governmental agency
- comments that suggest or encourage illegal activity
- comments promoting or opposing any person who is campaigning for election to a political office or promoting or opposing any ballot proposition
- comments including phone numbers, e-mail addresses, residential addresses, or similar information
- multiple, successive off-topic posts by a single user
- repetitive posts copied and pasted by multiple users”
“Communication made through this service’s e-mail and/or messaging system will in no way constitute a legal or official notice or comment to the U.S. Department of the Interior (or bureau) or any official or employee of the U.S. Department of the Interior (or bureau) for any purpose.
“References to commercial entities, products, services, or nongovernmental organizations or individuals are provided solely for information. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of U.S. Department of the Interior (or bureau), the United States Government, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying U.S. Department of the Interior (or bureau) endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.
“Reporters or other media representatives are asked to send questions through their normal channels (the appropriate DOI/bureau office public affairs or communications office) and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions may be removed.
“This Comment Policy is subject to amendment or modification at any time to ensure that its continued use is consistent with its intended purpose as a limited forum.”
We all make mistakes. If it's a minor typo, it's easy enough to edit a post or issue a correction. In spite of your best efforts, major accidents can happen. What should you do in that instance?
It’s important that only authorized employees have access to our social media accounts.
Document and data sharing websites are just what their name implies: places where users post information and material that other users can use and repurpose, creating a dynamic repository covering a potentially wide variety of subjects. Data.gov is one example of a government repository for information, but there are many other established online sites in the commercial sector that can also be used to make data and information available to the public and for the public to provide the government with valuable information. Document sharing websites (e.g., Scribd, SlideShare, and Socrata) can share documents, presentations, webinars, and/or datasets with the public.
At present, SlideShare has been approved by DOI; however, this should not be taken as an endorsement of SlideShare, nor an indication that other document-sharing websites will not be approved.
Social bookmarking tools such as Digg, Reddit, or Delicious allow users to share links to interesting information with larger audiences. These Web services typically allow users to organize their bookmarks using tags and share them either with the public, a specified group, or privately. Adding a simple widget on DOI or bureau content pages that allows visitors to share the content of the page via social bookmarking tools, social networking tools, or e-mail is a simple way that DOI and bureaus can drive traffic to their websites and allow visitors to quickly and easily share our information with their networks or communities.
At present, no such site is approved for use by DOI; however, in anticipation of future approvals, the following will apply: