Twitter Guide for Government: Disclaimer

Download the PDF: Thou Shalt Tweet! 15 Commandments for Government Agencies on Twitter


Do you only plan to tweet from Monday to Friday, 9:00 to 5:00 or only check for mentions once a day at 3:00 pm? Fine, but you need to spell this out. You need a good disclaimer!

As a government organization, you are subject to certain limitations. You can’t always be on 24/7 and your social media team may well consist of a group of one plus occasional help from a temp or summer student. So you may not be able to answer every inquiry up to the minute and you may have to do things that go a bit against the spirit of social media.

People are usually forgiving of this approach if you are upfront about it. Explain exactly how you intend to use the channel so that followers will know what to expect – and then stick to it. If you make changes to the disclaimer, tweet about it.
Put the disclaimer up on your main website and link to it from your Twitter bio.

GovLoop Tip:
Managing Accidental Tweets
So what happens if you accidently send out a tweet? This can easily happen if you forget to log out of your offical account and think you are tweeting from your professional. If you make this mistake, the first thing you need to do is admit fault, be honest and transparent, and then issue an apology to your followers.
A comment by GovLoop member Charles A. Ray, in the post “Secret Service Starts Twitter Account”, stumbles says:
“Stuff happens. One of the things agencies have to realize when they launch social media initiatives, is that mistakes will be made, but they’re usually not fatal. It helps if staff are part of the launch and are thoroughly briefed on what is and is not appropriate.”

Complete Listing of All 15 Twitter Commandments

This guide evolved from a post by Alain Lemay on GovLoop titled “Who Not to Follow On Twitter: A Guide for Public Sector Employees.” Alain is a Senior Web Communications Analyst for the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Agency in Canada. He graciously donated his time to assist in producing the 15 Commandments for Government Agencies on Twitter Guide in tandem with the GovLoop team.

  1. Thou Shalt Listen Before You Leap
  2. Thou Shalt Use Thy Profile Information Properly
  3. Thou Shalt Have a Disclaimer
  4. Thou Shalt Not Be a Bully (Nobody Likes a Bully!)
  5. Thou Shalt Tweet Regularly
  6. Thou Shalt Integrate My Tweet Approval Process
  7. Thou Shalt Not Register Alternate Accounts
  8. Thou Shalt Not Automate Thy Tweets
  9. Thou Tweet In the First Person
  10. Thou Shalt Not Bait and Switch
  11. Thou Shalt Not Spam
  12. Thou Shalt Be Selective About Who You Follow
  13. Thou Shalt Monitor Thy Account
  14. Thou Shalt Contribute to the Conversation
  15. Thou Shalt Measure for Success