The Government and Social Networking

I have two questions:

1. How does the government feel about their employees using social networks while on the job; and
2. How does the government feel about their employees using social networks all together and having their personal information out there (where they work, what they do, etc.)?

I am a student working on a paper.


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Adriel Hampton

Katherine, this is a good place to find answers to your questions, but you may need to delve a little deeper. There isn’t really a “the government,” there are federal, state and local governments made up of thousands of departments and agencies, each with their own take on social networking.

Terrence (Terry) Hill PHR

The White House is truly the market leader in the use of social media. Even though some agencies, like DHS, block all social media on official networks, they use social networks to reach out to citizens. For instance, FEMA uses a number of Twitter accounts for regional disaster update and has a YouTube Channel. The USCG is a leader in blogs, twitters, YouTube and other social media. TSA has had one of the first blogs of any agency.

Of course, Federal agencies would prefer that employees don’t use social media at all. They would prefer that a unified message come from the Public Affairs Office. However, it is difficult to completely control employees, who are also citizens.

Sterling Whitehead

The Department of Defense has recently taken a pro-social media with the release of its social media policy. Keep in mind though that this is just from the top down, so it will take a while to penetrate the thick skin of our bureaucracy. But I see it already being done. My agency’s Chief Technology Officer is a big advocate of social media, and he’s workinig on ways to use it in the workplace. The key thing is balancing security with openness. (Although I find that sometimes security is used as an excuse for not wanting to change).

Keep in mind employees LOVE social media — for talking to friends to learning about new topics. I’m doing this from my desk right now.

Sheryl Grant

It sounds like you’re looking at employee use of social networks for their own personal use, which might be harder information to come by than Federal agencies use of social media for civic engagement. Sometimes different agencies (local, state, federal) will include guidelines in their social media policies that address how they want employees to interact (or not) on Facebook or Twitter. Some policies recommend that employees not post during work hours because it could create bad publicity (since employees might be networking on taxpayer dollars). Other policies caution employees about what they say even on their personal social networks. And as @Terrence mentioned, different agencies might allow only certain employees to access social networks for the purpose of broadcasting media and interacting with the public.

You may find something helpful in this article, which links to a study on different groups of government employees and their use of social media.

Arvind Nigam

Nice straightforward question this is 🙂

To sum it up in one line, which is true for private majors also. The boss normally feel “shit” about social networks when the bossed use it. It’s a natural human tendency. At macro level however, there is positive overtone in the attitude of Governments towards their employees using SNS, both during and outside of jobs.

If we talk about guidelines & legal stuff that is incumbent on employees, the fine print normally is cut-copy-paste that followed through from an era when there was nothing like social networks, not even internet. So it pretty much depends on culture within a local setup, per se.