Understanding Official vs. Personal Accounts

Official Accounts

What does official capacity mean?

You are communicating in your official capacity when your supervisor assigns this activity as part of your official duties. Your supervisor should clearly explain the assignment and what social media tool or tools you can use. When you communicate in an official capacity you are communicating on behalf of GSA, just as if you were standing at a podium at a conference, communicating the agency's views to everyone.

Accounts used in an official capacity:

Subject to applicable legal authorities, GSA determines the purposes for which its official accounts may be used. Employees permitted to use official accounts must do so in accordance with applicable agency directives, regulations and policies. Simply put, official accounts are for official purposes.

If you are authorized to have an official GSA account using your personal name, the official GSA account which utilizes your personal name must be used for official purposes only and in accordance with agency directives, regulations, and policies.

Personal Accounts

What does personal capacity mean?

Personal capacity means you are acting on your own time and representing yourself and not the agency or the US Government. It's important to remember that when you use your social media tools personally, you're not speaking for GSA, and it shouldn't appear to others as though you're speaking for GSA.

Accounts used in a personal capacity:

Personal social media accounts, i.e., social media accounts not authorized for official agency use, may be established and maintained by employees without authorization from GSA. However, employees must ensure that their personal social media accounts comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct and other applicable laws, including but not limited to the Hatch Act, the use of the agency's seal, logos, and program names, and the prohibition on disclosing nonpublic information.

Additionally, an employee's personal social media account must not be designed in such a manner where a reasonable person would believe the employee's personal social media account is an official GSA social media account. To separate social media accounts used in an employee's personal capacity, we advise employees to not list that they work for GSA or a specific office of GSA, and note that opinions are their own. Employees' personal social media accounts found in violation of these policies will be subject to repercussion in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Questions can be referred to the Office of General Counsel.

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