Use of social media has become prevalent among Federal executive branch employees and agencies. The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is aware that agency ethics officials have an interest in understanding how the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Executive Branch Employees (Standards of Conduct), 5 C.F.R. part 2635, apply to the use of social media. This interest is reflected in the increased volume of questions that OGE receives from various agencies seeking advice in this area.
As an initial matter, the Standards of Conduct do not prohibit executive branch employees from establishing and maintaining personal social media accounts. As in any other context, however, employees must ensure that their social media activities comply with the Standards of Conduct and other applicable laws, including agency supplemental regulations and agency-specific policies. To assist employees and agency ethics officials in this endeavor, OGE is providing the following guidance regarding issues that agency ethics official have frequently raised concerning employees’ obligations under the Standards of Conduct when using social media.