Thursday, February 04, 2010

EPA Employees Instructed To Be Careful With Social Media

EPA's interim social media policy encourages employees to use the emerging technology responsibly

Environmental Protection Agency officials have issued interim policies on how the agency's employees should use social media (i.e., Facebook, Wikipedia) to interact with members of the public in a memo published on the Internet. The policy's guidance includes not making anonymous comments, stating facts rather than opinions and protecting nonpublic information.

The memo, dated Jan. 26, is from Linda Travers, left, principal deputy assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Environmental Information, and Seth Oster, right, associate administrator of the agency's Office of Public Affairs. The guidance suggests that when employees participate on EPA’s behalf in social media as part of their official duties, they should exercise the same decorum and professionalism that they would if they were speaking for the agency at a conference or public meeting, the memo states.

It also directs employees to obtain a supervisor's approval before representing EPA online and said they must not post opinions on behalf of EPA in areas outside their assigned duties.

The interim guidance does not apply to employees’ online activities while not on official duty. However, the officials acknowledged that the lines between personal and professional can sometimes get blurred in online social networks. Officials are still developing a final social media policy, according to the memo. (Federal Computer Week, 1/28/10)

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