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Social Media Access and Use Policy

Approved Date – 02/22/2021
Published Date – 02/22/2021
Reviewed Date – 03/13/2023

1. Purpose

This policy establishes standards for the proper use of social media networks by DC government employees.

2. Authority

DC Official Code § 1-1403 et seq., provides the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (“OCTO”) with the authority to provide information technology (IT) services, write and enforce IT policies, and secure the network and IT systems for the District. This document can be found at:

3. Applicability

This policy applies to:

  • All DC Government social networking accounts either hosted through a third-party or owned by the DC Government.
  • All users of DC Government Internet and social networking services that either view or create content, including:
  • Full and part-time employees.
  • Contractors authorized to use DC Government-owned equipment or network resources;
  • Volunteers who have been provided Internet service and comment via DC Government social networks; and
  • All other users of DC Government information technology resources.

4. Policy

Social Media Networks are highly efficient research and communications tools that are available through DC Government networks to its employees, contractors, and volunteers to assist them in supporting DC government functions and conducting the government's business within its own organization, with government and private business partners, and with the public. Appropriate use social networks by DC Government employees, contractors, and volunteers can enhance the efficiency and quality of government services, but inappropriate use can conflict with DC government policies and compromise availability of the system for all. This policy defines requirements and prohibitions for appropriate use of social networking sites for DC government functions.

4.1.  Principles

4.1.1.  Use of DC government social networking site access constitutes consent to abide by all elements of this policy, including such monitoring of Internet use as may be necessary and appropriate to effect DC Government policies concerning the use of the social networking access system and in aid of law-enforcement and auditing activities of federal and District of Columbia government agencies.

4.1.2.  DC Government social networking access and all related services are "DC Government facilities" or “web properties” as that term is used in other policies and guidelines. These systems and services are the property of the District of Columbia and under management control of the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO).

4.1.3.  All DC government policies relating to intellectual property protection, privacy, misuse of government resources, sexual harassment, data security, and confidentiality apply to use of DC Government Internet access by persons and entities described under "Scope," above.

4.2.  Allowable Uses

Use as a business utility to:

4.2.1.  Engage constituents in real time and provide customer service

4.2.2.  Promote thought leadership among District Government entities

4.2.3.  Disseminate news and information and services and events

4.2.4.  Provide another vehicle for agency outreach

4.2.5.  Build real and virtual communities

4.2.6.  View and post content for research, communication and information exchange directly related to the mission, charter, or work tasks of a DC government agency

4.2.7.  View and post content for research, communication, and information exchange for professional development, to maintain currency of training or education, or to discuss issues related to the Internet user's DC government activities

4.2.8.  View and post content to build information exchange among residents and build communities around District service offerings

4.2.9.  Other governmental communications not requiring a high level of security

4.2.10.  Incidental personal purposes, provided that such use does not:

4.2.11.  Directly or indirectly interfere with the DC Government operation of computing facilities or electronic mail services

4.2.12.  Burden the DC Government with noticeable incremental cost

4.2.13.  Interfere with the Internet user's employment or other obligations to the DC Government

4.3.  Prohibited Uses

4.3.1.  Any purpose that violates a federal or DC government law, code, or policy, standard or procedure

4.3.2.  The advertising or other promotion of any private business enterprise or activity

4.3.3.  Access to and/or distribution of:

4.3.4.  Pornography

4.3.5.  Fraudulent information

4.3.6.  Sensitive information (for example, information that could compromise public safety or violate Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) Privacy Rule)

4.3.7.  Proprietary and/or Public Trust information (for example, passwords or network information or discussing contents of solicitations before request for proposals have been released to the public at large)

4.3.8.  Harassing material

4.3.9.  Racially discriminatory, disparaging, or harassing information

4.3.10.  Hate-related information or opinions, including unsubstantiated accusations

4.3.11.  Any activity with religious or political purposes outside the scope of the user's assigned and authorized governmental duties

4.3.12.  Any unauthorized purchase

4.3.13.  Disruption obstruction, or burden of network resources

4.3.14.  The intentional or negligent introduction of computer viruses into any DC Government systems; agencies must prevent the introduction of computer viruses into DC government systems and must install virus-scanning software to check any software downloaded as email attachments.

4.5.  OCTO Roles and Responsibilities

OCTO is responsible for monitoring Internet use by DC employees at any time to determine compliance with this and related policies. View Internet Access and Use Policy OCTO0001. OCTO maintains content filtering software that blocks access to specific external Internet sites. External sites that are subject to blocking include those whose use by DC government employees are:

4.5.1.  Likely prohibited by, or inconsistent with, federal and District laws and regulations concerning discrimination, sexual harassment, child pornography, or hate crimes.

4.5.2.  Likely to consume excessive bandwidth or expose the network to risk of tampering or intrusion; or

4.5.3.  Likely to be for purposes not related to DC government, business, and functions. Types of blocked sites include, but are not limited to:

4.5.4.  Pornography sites

4.5.5.  Sites advocating or encouraging hate or discrimination

4.5.6.  Sites providing information about hacking or other cyber-intrusion

4.5.7.  Sites featuring gambling, games, or other entertainment

Content filtering is intended to prevent DC Government employees from intentionally or negligently accessing Internet sites, including social networking sites, that are non-business related or could otherwise violate applicable law or policy. The District's content filtering software is not intended to, and does not, filter inappropriate content in chat rooms.

In some instances, the content filtering service will fail to block inappropriate content. The District assumes no liability in such cases.

In some instances, content filtering may block sites needed for legitimate DC government business. In these cases, requests for restoration of access or other filtering changes should be made in writing by the agency Director, or his/her designate, on the Content Filter Configuration Change Form provided below. OCTO will process the request within five (5) working days.

5.  Sanctions

Violations of District Social Media Use policy will result in:

5.1.  Upon notice to the violator, disabling of his/her access to such networking sites for a period of time consistent with the seriousness of the violation, unless a written request for reinstatement is submitted by the agency Director/designate to the OCTO Director of IT Security.

5.2.  Where a user's account is found to be broadcasting a virus or otherwise placing the DC Government system in jeopardy, disabling the account without notice to the violator, with reinstatement as described above.

5.3.  Other corrective action in the discretion of the violator's Agency Director.

6.  Exemptions

There are no exemptions from this policy.