The Office of Special Counsel recently issued the following summary of policies regarding the use of social media by federal employees.
Social media—and the ease of accessing those accounts at work, either on computers or smartphones—has made it easier for federal employees to violate the Hatch Act. Yet there are many activities employees can do on social media that do not violate the law.
In general, all federal employees may use social media to engage in “political activity” and comply with the Hatch Act if they remember the guidelines below.
Political activity refers to any activity directed at the success or failure of a political party or partisan political group (collectively, “partisan groups”), or candidate for partisan office. In the social media context, political activity includes sharing, liking, or retweeting a post from a partisan group or candidate for partisan office, or posting and/or tweeting a comment about a partisan group or candidate for partisan office.
All federal employees may not:
1. Use a social media account in your official capacity to engage in political activity at any time (but including your official title/position on a social media profile is allowed)
2. Tweet, retweet, share, or like a post or content that solicits political contributions at any time
3. Like or follow the social media page of a candidate for partisan office or partisan group while on duty or in the workplace
4. Engage in political activity via social media while on duty or in the workplace
In addition, further restricted employees may not:
1. Link to or post the material of a partisan group or candidate for partisan office at any time
2. Share or retweet the social media pages or posts of a partisan group or candidate for partisan office at any time