I've had a couple of requests recently on whether the House of Representatives has a social media policy. Actually, we put one together back in 2009, so it's probably time to revisit it and see if it needs an update. I thought it might be worthwhile publishing it again here and welcome comments. Printable version here.
Social Media – Proper Use Policy
Social Media including Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, and other Internet based media, are powerful communication tools. We use them for various purposes, both public and private, and it’s important to distinguish between the two when using social media at and for work. If it is your personal opinion, you should make clear that views expressed are personal and not necessarily the views of your representative, office, other employees or the House. However, even with that disclaimer, the following specific policies and guidelines shall apply.
Personal or private use during work hours is strictly prohibited. Any such use should occur on employee's personal, after hours or break times, provided that use of government computers is prohibited because of the potential misuse or possible threats to system. Any and all personal/private use must be on personal or private computer equipment.
When using social media at work and as part of your job, the following rules shall be adhered to because whether you are posting as yourself or for your representative, there remains a public image that is being presented and any posting can potentially be discovered by others and possibly broadcast to millions.
1. Any disparaging or extremely negative comments about specific individuals could be defamatory or could invade their privacy. Thus, these statements shall be avoided.
2. Do not disclose any confidential or proprietary information. This could subject you or the House to liability.
3. Photographs, video clips, pictures or other images of any person should only be used with their permission unless it was obtained and used for public dissemination (e.g. media clips, official House proceedings, etc.) since private persons have rights to the use of their images.
4. When using material from another source, especially when blogging, proper credit to the source must be given to avoid any copyright, trademark or other intellectual property issues.
5. Private or personal use of the Hawai`i State Seal, or other official symbols without prior authorization is prohibited.
6. Business promotion, endorsement of products, marketing or any other business enterprise is prohibited.
7. Campaign or electoral related postings, statements, or images are strictly prohibited.
8. Use shall also be consistent with the House's policy on computer use and equipment.
Violations of these policies may result in reprimand, suspension or termination with or without notice.
In addition to the above required policies, the following guidelines are recommended:
1. Don’t tweet or post when you are angry or in a bad mood. You may say something you’ll regret.
2. It’s always a good idea to pause, read over, and make sure you are really ready to press “send”. If in doubt, don’t send.
3. Remember that your bosses can go back and check what you’re tweeting or posting, and at what time of day. Therefore, don’t show off your awesome “Bejewelled” or “Farmville” scores, for example, when you are supposed to be working.
4. You want to come across as a real person, not a robot. Don’t be afraid to show your personality as long as you don’t embarrass yourself, your representative, or the legislature.
5. Be informative, be interesting, be respectful and be real.