Appendix C. Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I use social media tools (both GSA-sponsored and third-party sites such as Facebook and Twitter) for my job?
A: Yes, you may use both GSA-sponsored and third-party sites to help get the agency’s message out. Keep in mind the rules governing official communications, such as the "Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch." Also, use caution to avoid accepting the standard "click-through" user agreement on most websites; they contain provisions that the government cannot legally accept. Appendix E provides guidance on risks and mitigation strategies.
Q: Does GSA's Social Media Policy require offices to use social media tools?
A: No. The policy simply encourages the use of social media technologies to enhance communication, collaboration and information exchange in support of our mission.
Q: As part of my official responsibilities, I manage my office’s blog. What can’t I talk about on the blog?
A: Your office’s efforts with social media should always be related to GSA’s mission, so you should always keep your message strategic and focused. Follow the same rules using your office's blog that you use with any other communication tools (telephone, Internet, etc.). These rules cover endorsements, appropriate language, political statements and other topics. See Appendix D "Guidance for Bloggers."
Q: As part of my official duties, I am responsible for maintaining one of my office’s Facebook pages. Are there any Facebook-specific rules I need to be aware of?
A: No. There are no new rules to follow as a result of using Facebook or other social media tools. The guidelines for appropriate use of social media exist in rules that apply to official communication.
Q: A Web service such as Twitter isn’t compliant with Section 508, but GSA offices use it to communicate. Why is that allowed?
A: All information that a federal agency sends out via a third-party social media tool must also be on the agency website. Commercial tools are opportunities for supplementing how we reach our target audiences. They should not, however, replace official communication channels. Our offices using Twitter make the information in their posts available through official channels that meet all legal requirements. Generally speaking, as long as there's equal access to the information for people with and without disabilities, and commercial sites are not the only or official source of information, our offices can communicate using sites such as Twitter or Facebook.
Q: Is GSA's Social Media Navigator a step toward limiting what employees can say on agency Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages in their official capacity?
A: No. This handbook provides guidance on how to use social media tools, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, in carrying out our mission while still complying with rules and regulations. Social media is just another communications tool. When speaking in your official capacity, you must follow the same rules whether you communicate through social media, the telephone, gsa.gov or other medium.
Q: I want to set up an official blog, Facebook page or Twitter account for my office. Do I need permission, and whom should I ask?
A: You should speak to the person in your office who has executive oversight or responsibility for the subject you'll be communicating about. Also, if you're at GSA, remember you must contact the Office of Communications and Marketing at email@example.com, so staff can maintain an updated list of our social media initiatives. You must also take training. For GSA employees, use the internal Social Media Center.
Q: I must admit I don’t know much about Facebook or Twitter, and wondered if you have any really specific guidance on using them?
A: As a matter of fact, the people on GSA's social media team in the Office of Communications and Marketing will answer your questions via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. GSA employees should also use the agency's these internal links: