Government releases social media guidance for civil servants

New social media guidelines for civil servants have been released by the Cabinet Office

New social media guidelines for civil servants have been released by the Cabinet Office.

The new guidelines cover the use of social media networks including Twitter and Facebook, as well as other digital activities in and out of work such as browsing websites, downloading content or posting or publishing anything to the web.

The Cabinet Office said the purpose of the new guidelines is to encourage and enable civil servants to use social and other digital media appropriately to enhance our work, while doing so in accordance with the Civil Service Code.

“One of the best features of digital media is that it is constantly evolving, so it’s important for us to keep on top of trends, be open minded and consider the potential value of new tools and techniques,” the document states.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said digital and social media can help the civil service reach out to the people it serves.

“Gone forever is a world when an anonymous man in an inaccessible Whitehall office made decisions on behalf of others – new digital technologies help civil servants across the country engage actively with the public,” said Maude.

“It’s not rocket science – we must use common sense about everything we publish on digital and social media. Once something has been sent, it’s public. Following these guidelines correctly will ensure that your social media activity will enhance your job as a civil servant, while also retaining the highest levels of integrity.”

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The guidance calls upon civil servants to use their common sense when using social media and digital. It warns users that, if they have any doubts over what they are posting, not to post the content.

It also tells civil servants to check accuracy and sensitivity before posting, and to remember that “once something is posted online it’s very difficult to remove it.”

A couple of months ago, the Foreign Office came under fire for spending £92,574 on social media training since 2010.

The department said the money has been spent on training diplomats and staff in using social media in crisis, by tracking and assisting British nationals, as well as providing travel and security advice.

The money was spent on FCO staff in senior management positions, consular staff, press and communications officers, digital staff and web editors, and staff in policy roles – in London and overseas.

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