Supporting the Google Group that can be found at the link below, this group provides a place for those on GovLoop and interested in Government 2.0 as it relates to Australia.
Do you identify the department that you work with?
June 21, 2009 at 9:20 am #74194
I was wondering about this the other day as in the past I’ve taken to not disclosing the government department that I work for, not entirely for clear reasons but it seemed the best thing to do and I’ve continued to do so.
But then of course after meeting people IRL I’ve shared who I work for etc, generally it is unavoidable but I I would be interested to know what level of employer anonymity that others take when using social media?
June 21, 2009 at 12:53 pm #74216
Even when in the Public Service I have never chosen to try to be anonymous with the agency I worked for. I really don’t see the point.
With respect to things like the Code of Conduct for the APS and its equivalents, so long as you consider those impacts while you are present online (here of all places, it should matter least) you should be fine.
That said, there are parts of some agency management that aren’t comfortable. It’s always best to take the lay of the land.
June 21, 2009 at 12:54 pm #74214
Of course, there are some agencies you actually can’t discuss your employment with. They are special cases.
June 21, 2009 at 9:13 pm #74212
I blog about stuff that goes directly to my responsibilities at work, so I have a disclaimer in my blog to the effect that I:
– reveal who I work for
– state that the views expressed are my views alone
There are positives and negatives. I believe it is important for accountability reasons to disclose who I work for. There are guidelines around for public servants that provide some direction about that.
I fly a little under the radar by using ‘conem’ as my identity for Twitter and some other social networks because the views I express are so far ranging, but I always disclose my blog so people can drill down for accountability if they want to.
In my social media I share information and express views to a point, but I avoid going into deeper policy analysis about subjects where the government’s position is unclear. There is no doubt in my view that interactive analysis would provide more insights and creative approaches to public policy issues. But we are not anywhere near that culture unfortunately.
I’m hoping that the Australian Government’s intent to take-up Government 2.0 tools and techniques will really kick in later this year. So there are some signs of political leadership action that will be a key driver of cultural change…over time.
June 22, 2009 at 12:37 am #74210
I think it’s much more sensible to just indicate that you’re a govt employee with a standard code of conduct that constrains what you can publically discuss. The blog I started last year does just that and indicates that there are restrictions on what I can share. And, as such, the blog has become a somewhat anodyne site with research references and links rather than an open ‘shoot from the hip’ rumination….a bit like the restraint you’d exercise if you were speaking at a public meeting….it’s a tad ‘Sir Humphrey’ but what can you do?
June 22, 2009 at 1:11 am #74208
The discussion has given me some thoughts regarding association – if people are aware for instance that I work with a certain department via my Twitter account which then leads back to my personal blog that has no affiliation with my employer and whom is not identified at any stage are there any concerns there?
It’s all a bit of headache really and probably a non issue considering that I’m not exactly controversial on my personal blog (unless you count liking Terminator 3 more than Terminator: Salvation :P).
June 24, 2009 at 10:47 pm #74206
If people ask where you work you should tell them but you should also make it very clear that your social media persona is your personal persona, and that you are not speaking on behalf of your employer. You should also avoid commenting on any issues which may be construed by your employer as a conflict of interest. For further information and clear guidelines please refer to the APS Code of Conduct. http://www.apsc.gov.au/conduct/
July 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm #74204
Lee, refer to the Interim Protocols for Online Media Participation.
My feeling is that if you post on certain matters and do not declare that you are a public servant you can run into situations where you may breach the code and also could be accused of fraudulent behaviour,
July 9, 2009 at 12:58 am #74202
For me, it is all about context. If I were to write about work-related stuff on a blog I would both disclose where I worked, and a disclaimer. Since my blog is personal, I think it is irrelevant where I work. On Twitter, where work and personal cross over, I disclose I work for govt, but not where. Then I am careful to keep it fairly professional (which sometimes means you miss out on some interesting conversations). To me, this need to think about context points towards offering govt employees social media training, on top of codes of conduct.
October 14, 2009 at 10:50 pm #74200
The variety of perspectives suggest either how uncertain is the issue, or that its certain but complex (like a lot of issues in this post-post-modern age). Probably a bit of each. We need to remember a couple of important practical issues though:
1. Distinctions between different fora online and approaches to what is posted in each are becoming less relevant all the time. Simple Google (or bing or whichever) searches bring all the diverse content together in highly relevant ways. That’s why we like those services so much. Its an increasingly trivial exercise to discover online a wide-ranging profile of someone.
2. Corollary of this and a trend in itself: gaps between professional versus personal views & acitivities–online & elsewhere–are disappearing in practice. As might be the expectation of such gaps.
3. The implication is that I think approaches which are technically permissable or theoretically pure may not save the poster’s bacon. At least not in the court of public or online opinion, which tends to seep over to our lives as employees whether we like it or not.
Its almost like what one says needs to matter only because of what is said; if a work-based association might make a difference to how much the view matters, then it shouldn’t be said at all even in a ‘private’ capacity. Such a thing is ceasing to exist. The only option to express views which are controversial to stakeholders significant in our lives (such as employers) is complete anonymity, and even that is hard to achieve.
November 23, 2009 at 11:45 pm #74198
I noticed this was discussed in length during the Gov 2.0 conference recently.
I think it’s ironic given the social media landscape and it’s very nature that we have to censor so much of what we say. Yes we should not be overtly negative, codescending or defamatory in our comments either toward our employer or others. That’s just commone sense, as it always has been. But I think it a shame people feel they can not express their true opinions (as themselves) on certain subjects out of fear that it refelcts on their department. Perhaps we will all have to come up with pen names 🙂
December 26, 2009 at 10:23 pm #74196
Disclosure of which Department one works for seems to vary and I think a good course of action is to check the Code of Conduct of the jurisdiction you work for. I have looked at a fair few and this is not explicitly addressed.
Beyond that it seems to vary within departments. The core issue is whether people are speaking on behalf of their department. In my case I am always speaking as a professional public servant and my views do not necessarily reflect any official views of my department.
I think another dimension to this is the question of how sensible is it to not indicate which department one works for? Not very in my view as where we works often shapes our interests and perspectives.
It would obviously be a different matter if saying where you worked had, for example, security implications or could expose you to risk somehow.
Some departments worry about the potential risk th their reputation if their employees say something derogatory. That’s a tad precious in my view and, let’s face it could be an indication of a culture that is more concerned with control and image than subtance and engagement.
I guess there are two paths here. Just do it. Afterall, we do say who we work for when we post resumes on line. Or just seek clarification from your department.
The challenge is if they have no policy and are controlling and precious at the same time.
One of the challenges of Gov 2.0
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