New Social Media Rules Forbid Federal Employees from Making Political PostsMarch 4, 2018 / by Aubrey Lovegrove
Federal employees that want to keep their jobs have to stay away from making political posts while at work. According to the new guidelines under the Hatch Act, federal employees have to avoid making political statements on social media platforms while on the clock.
The Act has clear guidelines on what federal employees are not supposed to post on social media. There are certain types of political activities that have been prohibited under the Hatch Act, and this means that all federal government employees are always under close watch.
Who does the New Act apply to?
The new guidelines apply to employees in all federal agencies including heads of various federal agencies, members of federal agencies, ambassadors, National Park rangers, and NASA workers. However, the new guidelines do not apply to the legislative branches of government, the president, and the vice president. Federal employees are expected to stay within the law in their political engagements on social media.
Shares, Likes, and Retweets are Illegal
It is important to point out that the law is not limited to posting. The law extends to liking, sharing, or retweeting your favorite political posts or pictures on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Moreover, federal employees are forbidden from engaging in the mentioned social media activities in both private and professional lives.
However, the employees can donate to political causes and campaigns at a personal level but are not allowed to convince or implore other people to donate to political campaigns and causes. This applies when one is on the clock.
On the Clock vs. Off
A federal employee’s public life should be separated from activities like supporting political parties and candidates. The Hatch Act Social Media Quick Guide stipulates all the instances when an employee is allowed to engage in political activities. According to the new guidelines, an employee that is away from work can post about their support for a particular party or candidate.
Also, they can even share with their friends or followers about their involvement in fundraising events for their favorite candidates or parties. However, the employees are prohibited from such activities while on the clock or at work. Law enforcement agencies and the intelligence department are completely forbidden from such activities while on or off the clock.
Warnings to Members of the Trump Administration
Members of Trump’s administrations like the United States ambassador to the United Nations and the White House Director of Social Media have in the recent past received warnings from the Office of Special Counsel for violating the new guidelines. Apart from warnings, other punishments that one can receive include; a civil penalty of less than $1000, letter of reprimand, suspension, debarment from federal service, or removal from federal service.