Think Before You Post: Ethics Guidance on Personal Social Media Use

Last edited 09/23/2021
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Federal Government Standards of Ethical Conduct for Executive Branch Employees (Standards of Conduct) do not prohibit federal employees from establishing and maintaining personal social media accounts. However, employees need to ensure their social media activity complies with Federal ethics laws and regulations, including Department of the Interior and/or Bureau-specific policies.

DON’T: Use Personal Social Media During the Workday

Federal employees are required to use official time in an honest effort and only use government property to perform official duties, unless otherwise authorized.  This limits the extent to which employees may access and use their personal social media accounts while on duty.

Furthermore, personal use of government equipment (including computers and phones) to access social media is governed by the Department’s limited personal use policies.

DON’T: Give the Impression You Are Posting in An Official Capacity

When posting to a personal social media account, employees may refer to their official job title or list their DOI employment so long as employees make clear that they are not posting in an official capacity.  For example, it is permissible to post a resume on a professional networking social media site or list employment history on a social network profile.  However, employees cannot post in a manner that gives the impression they are posting in an official capacity or on behalf of the Department.

DON’T: Violate the Hatch Act

While on duty or at work, the Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from posting or sharing a message about a partisan political candidate or partisan group, tweeting or retweeting content supporting or opposing a partisan political candidate or partisan group, or inviting others to a campaign rally or other partisan political event.

Even when off duty and away from work, the Hatch Act prohibits all employees from tweeting, liking or otherwise sharing a message that asks others to donate to a candidate or partisan group, sharing an invitation to a campaign or political party fundraiser, or using their official title or position to endorse a candidate. 

Additionally, further restricted employees must never share or link to the account of a partisan group or campaign, or retweet a message from a candidate or partisan political group.

DON’T: Share non-public information.

The Standards of Conduct prohibit employees from disclosing non-public information to further their private interests or those of others.  This prohibition applies without regard to the medium used (i.e., social media) for the unauthorized disclosure. 

The Standards of Conduct generally do not prevent employees from discussing or sharing government information that is publicly available. Employees may not, however, accept compensation for statements or communications made over social media that relate to their official duties.

If you have any questions concerning this guidance or any other ethics topic, you are encouraged to contact an ethics counselor.  Contact information for the Department of the Interior’s Departmental Ethics Office and bureau ethics counselors is available at

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