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Social Media Policies

Use of social media technologies must follow the current laws and standards that govern information and information technology. Below is an explanation of the most common policies and standards that impact the use of social media.

Print out the HHS Social Media Policies Checklist to make sure you have addressed the relevant standards and policies. You can find further guidance from the HHS Office of the General Counsel and from the HHS Office of the Chief Information Officer.

Accessibility

Section 508 requires that all website content be accessible to people with disabilities. This applies to Web applications, Web pages and all attached files on the intranet, as well as, internet.

Branding

Departmental social media sites and content must clearly identify ownership or sponsorship through the use of Department or OPDIV branding. HHS logo policies also apply when used with third-party sites or applications.

Comment Moderation

Many new online technologies allow for the submission of user-generated content. HHS encourages this public interaction with the following caveats:

  • All comments must be reviewed and cleared (moderated) before they are posted.
  • Comments must not be posted if they contain:
    • Blatantly partisan political views
    • Explicit commercial endorsements
    • Discriminatory, racist, offensive, obscene, inflammatory, unlawful or otherwise objectionable statements, language or content.

Copyrighted Content

Many third-party sites and applications have specific guidelines for the use of trademarked images and logos. Consult the specific site or application you are using for more information.

Linking, Liking, Following and Endorsement

HHS Websites are able to link to non-government Websites according to the HHS Linking Standard. These links, which include those to third-party websites on which HHS content is held, should include an exit disclaimer.

Consider the value in liking/ following a specific entity and what it may convey to your audience. In many cases, following an organization may convey endorsement of the entire entity, while retweeting or reposting content from another entity may only imply endorsement of the content that is being reposted. Consult your external link policy for guidance on Liking, Following, or Friending other entities and reposting their content within government accounts on third-party networks.

Official Agency Sources of Information

All content posted to third-party sites should also be verifiable through an agency’s official website. People should also be able to obtain comparable information and services through an agency’s official website or other official means. For example, members of the public should be able to learn about the agency’s activities and to communicate with the agency without having to join a third-party social media website. All third-party sites should also provide a link back to the agency’s official website. In addition, if an agency uses a third-party service to solicit feedback, the agency should provide an alternative government email address where users can also send feedback.

Record Keeping

The rules governing the maintenance of Federal records and web records cover records associated with the utilization of social media. The maintenance of these records, in either electronic or print format, is the responsibility of the office or agency originating the content. Read the HHS Web Records Policy & Guidance to learn more about the required schedule for maintaining web records. Be sure to contact your Records Official to determine if there are additional considerations for records specific to social media. Read more from the National Archives on the Implications of Recent Web Technologies for NARA Web Guidance.

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Content created by Digital Communications Division (DCD)
Content last reviewed on July 30, 2018