Legislative Social Media Policies and Resources

social media signsState legislative caucuses and agencies increasingly are using social networking sites to reach out to constituents, but the sites can raise questions for government. For example, citizens may not be aware that privacy policies and terms of service agreements of social networking sites could conflict with government policies and statutes. Many social networking sites contain advertisements; for governments with social networking pages, do the ads imply endorsement of products shown? How should government officials and employees handle offensive or obscene content posted by users? Can elected officials block followers and friends? How are Internet campaigning laws and rules being applied to social media? And how do public records and open meetings laws intersect with social networking? Legislative speech and debate immunity also may enter the mix.

In addition, social media use in the workplace is growing and gaining acceptance, but concerns remain—about employee productivity, employee privacy, threats from viruses or spyware spread through social media sites, and other potential abuses or liabilities.

This site provides various resources and examples of policies, including NCSL's A Guide for Writing a State Legislative Personnel Manual, which has useful guidance (under "Workplace Conduct" sections) relating to the use of technology resources, personal devices and the use of social media. 

The policies and resources provided below are examples of some of the approaches state legislatures and other organizations are taking to address these issues. Share your information on this site by sending your policies and practices.

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Legislative Policies

Legislatures adopt social media policies in order to set ground rules related to site administration, appropriate content (including comments), and employee usage.

Usage Policies

Site Policies or Disclaimers

State (Executive Branch)

Social media is a useful tool for a state agency that wants to inform a wide audience about its mission and programs. But an agency also needs an effective policy that clarifies who is permitted to post on its behalf, as well as what sort of internal use is appropriate. 

Examples of State Agency/Statewide Social Media Policies

Other State Resources

Federal Resources

Resources in this section range from congressional and federal agency policies in effect to studies of best practices.

NCSL Resources

NCSL publications have addressed ethical issues particular to social media, as well as other considerations for elected officials.

Other Resources

Additional guidance on crafting and implementing an effective social media policy is available from sources ranging from technology companies to think tanks.