Government Social Media Policy

I. Policy Statement

It is the policy of the Government of Nova Scotia to encourage clear and effective communication with all Nova Scotians using a variety of accepted tools, including social media. Government use of social media must, like all other forms of communication, meet tests of credibility, privacy, authority and accountability.

II. Definitions

  • Social media means the online technologies and practices that are used to share information and opinions and build relationships. It can involve a variety of formats, including text, pictures, video, audio and real-time dialogues. It includes, but is not exclusive to, such things as social networks, discussion forums, blogs, wikis and podcasts.
  • Moderated means technical and monitoring measures that prevent, or ensure the timely removal of, any defamatory or objectionable submissions.
  • Reasonable communications practices include practices that help assess project appropriateness and possible alternatives, potential audience, the costs and benefits to the Nova Scotia economy and to the health, safety and well-being of Nova Scotians, public service needs, and other factors associated with a communication plan prepared by CNS communications staff.

III Policy Objectives

The objectives of this policy are to:

  • encourage the safe, creative and effective use of social media by Government employees
  • provide a framework for the application of the policies and Guidelines that oversee social media use, such as the Guidelines for Civil Servants' Use of Social Media
  • enable social media use in communicating overall government themes and policy directions
  • ensure the use of social media by Government employees complies with all applicable laws, and all Government of Nova Scotia policies and procedures, including those related to protection of privacy, capture and retention of records, security, respectful workplaces, employee code of conduct, conflict of interest and Internet/e-mail use.

IV. Policy Application

This policy applies to all social media communication by Government employees of departments, offices of Government and the public service as listed in Category I of Management Manual 100: Management Guide, Chapter 1, Policy 1.2. Crown corporations and others listed in Category II of Management Manual 100 will apply this policy or develop and apply a similar social media policy. All other government-affiliated agencies, boards and commissions, and publicly funded Municipalities, Academic Institutions, School Boards and Health Authorities are encouraged to follow the principles of this policy.

V. Policy Directives

  • Government employees using any social media are governed by the Government of Nova Scotia's Civil Service Code of Conduct, Conflict of Interest, all Government of Nova Scotia policies and procedures affecting protection of privacy, records capture and retention and website/Internet use.
  • All Government employees using social media shall comply with the Guidelines for Civil Servants' Use of Social Media.
  • The decision to create or initiate new Government external blogs, discussion forums or other social media must be approved by Communications Nova Scotia.
  • Blogs, discussion forums or other social media initiated and/or created by, and within the control of Government must be moderated.
  • Government-hosted social media services must include Terms of Use Guidelines for users.

VI. Accountability

All Government Employees

  • Government employees are responsible for understanding and following all Government policies affecting use of social media, including but not exclusive to the Guidelines for Civil Servants' Use of Social Media, Government of Nova Scotia's Civil Service Code of Conduct, Conflict of Interest policies and procedures, and all Government of Nova Scotia policies and procedures affecting protection of privacy, records capture and retention and website/Internet use.

Senior Management

  • Senior management is responsible for: – ensuring that all employees are advised of the Guidelines for Civil Servants' Use of Social Media; – ensuring that social media services initiated and/or created by and within the control of Government are moderated; – ensuring that appropriate Terms of Use Guidelines are posted, whenever possible, for all Government-operated social media initiatives – ensuring that appropriate records management policies are implemented for all Government-operated social media initiatives.

Deputy Head

  • The deputy head is responsible for administering and ensuring implementation of the policy.

Communications Nova Scotia

  • Communications Nova Scotia is responsible for granting approval, where appropriate, for all new external social media endeavours that are initiated or created by Government.
  • Communications Nova Scotia will determine that each new social media venture initiated or created by Government has plans that are based on reasonable communications practices and include technical and monitoring measures which prevent, or ensure the timely removal of, any defamatory or objectionable submissions.
  • Communications Nova Scotia is responsible for creating the criteria required for moderation of social media.

VII. Monitoring

Communications Nova Scotia, in co-operation with the Chief Information Officer, will monitor and update this policy.

VIII. References

Guidelines for Civil Servants' Use of Social Media, Criteria for Moderating Social Media, Conflict of Interest Policy, Values, Ethics and Conduct – A Code for Nova Scotia's Public Servants, Respectful Workplace Policy, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and regulations, Government Internet Policy and Website Design and Content Standards, Electronic Mail Policy, Website Privacy Policy, Information Management Policy, Government Records Act and Records Management Policy, Communications and Information Act, Personal Information, International Disclosure Protection Act