Communications and Marketing
Policy Number: PCY10/061
Approved: August 2015
Next Review: August 2017
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence

1. Context

The National Library of Australia embraces the use of social media for the promotion, development and delivery of services and the collection as outlined in the Social Media Strategy.

The Library recognises that all employees can communicate online in many ways, such as through social media, professional networking sites, blogs, online news sites and personal websites. However, all employees need to use good judgment about what material appears online, and in what context.

This policy applies to all Library employees using or having a need to participate in online social media activity for official Library communications and through personal accounts which they have created and administer themselves.

2. Objective

This policy is intended to provide clarity to Library employees on how to conduct themselves in social media. It also informs them of their responsibilities when using social media. It encourages employees to find a voice in social media, while protecting the interests of the Library.

3. Scope

Social media tools are defined in this policy as all online media which allow user participation and interaction including (but not limited to):

  • social networking sites, e.g. Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster
  • video and photo sharing websites, e.g. Flickr, YouTube, Blip, Instagram
  • micro-blogging and activity stream sites, e.g. Twitter, Yammer
  • blogs and blogging platforms, e.g. WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr 
  • forums and discussion boards, e.g. Trove Forum, Yahoo! Groups,  Google Groups
  • online encyclopaedias, e.g. Wikipedia
  • any other websites that allow individual users or companies to use simple publishing tools, e.g. wikis.

4. Compliance requirements

The controls and guidance in this policy use language as defined by the International Engineering Task Forces (IETF) request for comments 2119 such as ‘Required’, ‘Must’, ‘Should’, ‘Recommended’ and ‘May’ to indicate differing degrees of compliance requirements.

Control definitions

Required This control is mandatory.
Must The control is mandatory. However, there may be some scope to accept variation as long as appropriate procedures are followed.
Should This control is strongly advised. However, valid reasons to vary from the control could exist in particular circumstances; the full implications need to be considered before choosing a different course.
Recommended This control is optional. However, employees are encouraged to consider the implementation of guidance containing the recommended keyword based on the unique circumstances and risk.
May This control is optional. There is no associated compliance requirement.

5. Controls – Official use

Official use refers to communication carried out from one of the Library’s branded social media accounts or when an employee is commenting from a private account as a National Library representative. An example could be sending a tweet from the Trove National Library account, or posting a factual answer to a forum comment incorrectly describing a National Library initiative. A full list of the Library’s branded social media accounts can be found in the Social Media Register held by the Communications and Marketing Branch.

Employees conducting official communication through social media:

  • Must have approval from the relevant division head to use social media in an official capacity.
  • Must read, understand, and comply with the Library’s Staff Use of Internet and Electronic Mail Policy and Guidelines (internal document available on the Intranet)
  • The control from the Library’s Staff Use of Internet and Electronic Mail Policy and Guidelines also applies to social media: Users must not access inappropriate material on the Internet via a web browser or other software tool with the following exception. It is possible that Library employees may have a work related need to access material that may be deemed inappropriate. In these cases the employee must notify their supervisor of this variance prior to, or immediately after, accessing this information.
  • Must not comment on the activities of another Branch or Division of the Library apart from providing factual information that is on the public record, unless employees have authority to do so.
  • Must avoid any statement that might bring the Library into disrepute.
  • Must not commit the Library to any action or initiative without appropriate authority.
  • Must not disclose official information unless authorised to do so or unless it is already in the public domain.
  • Should be aware of laws covering libel, defamation, privacy and the protection of intellectual property.
  • Must ensure all activities are in line with APS and Library policies. These include:
    • behaving with respect and courtesy, and without harassment
    • dealing appropriately with information, recognising that some information needs to remain confidential
    • delivering services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public
    • being sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public
    • taking reasonable steps to avoid conflicts of interest
    • making proper use of Commonwealth resources
    • upholding the APS Values and the integrity and good reputation of the APS
    • not acting in a way that would call into question the APS employee’s ability to be apolitical, impartial and professional in the performance of their duties.
    • Must be apolitical, impartial and professional, and avoid any statements that might be interpreted as advocating government policies or criticising the policies of political parties or groups.
    • Must protect personal information entrusted to the Library from distribution into the public domain.
    • Employees should take note of any copyright/Creative Commons notices attached to content they wish to use/repurpose. Additionally employees should cite or otherwise acknowledge content sources when they are known.
    • Must refer to the Library’s Media Liaison Manager for crisis communications.

6. Controls – Professional use

Professional use is when an employee is commenting personally but as an experienced person in their particular field. They are not representing the Library or the Government. For example, a librarian working at the National Library might want to leave an opinion about the future library use of e-books, which is not related to government policy.

Employees participating in social media in a professional capacity:

  • Must declare their purpose and their position as a representative of the Library, using an official staff account. Depending on how close the relationship is to the topic being discussed the employee may wish to provide a graduated level of identification.
    • e.g. I am John Doe, the Director of Web Publishing.
    • e.g. I am John Doe, a member of the Web Publishing Team.
    • e.g. I am John Doe, an employee of the National Library of Australia.
  • Must provide a disclaimer making it explicit that their views do not represent those of the Library e.g:

“This site (or post, or content, etc.) is for discussion purposes only and does not represent the official views of the National Library of Australia. Any views expressed on this site are those of the individual site author only.”

  • Must ensure all activities are in line with APS and Library policies.
  • Should not comment in depth on the activities of another Branch or Division of the Library apart from providing factual information that is on the public record, unless employees have authority to do so.
  • Must not disclose official information unless authorised to do so or unless it is already in the public domain.
  • Must protect personal information entrusted to the Library from distribution into the public domain.

7. Controls – Private use

Private use is when an employee is commenting with a profile that is not identified as an official staff account. Employees must read, understand, and comply with the Library’s Internet and Email Usage Policy and Guidelines (internal document available on the Intranet).

Employees participating in private social media activity must uphold the APS Values and Code of Conduct even when material is posted anonymously, or using an ‘alias’ or pseudonym. They should bear in mind that even if they do not identify themselves online as an APS employee or an employee of their agency, they could nonetheless be recognised as such as social media websites are public forums. They should keep up to date on changes in privacy and other conditions of use on social media channels they use.

Employees should not rely on a site’s security settings to guarantee privacy, as material posted in a relatively secure setting can still be copied and reproduced elsewhere. Further, comments posted on one site can also be used on others under the terms and conditions of many social media sites.

8. Inappropriate use

Inappropriate use of social media includes, but is not limited to:

  • conducting private business
  • using discriminatory, defamatory, abusive or otherwise objectionable language in content
  • accessing, downloading or transmitting any kind of sexually explicit material, violent images including graphic images of blood or gore (without medical purpose)
  • accessing, downloading or transmitting information on the use and construction of weapons, explosives and other tools of violence or terrorism
  • accessing, downloading or transmitting any material deemed to be illegal under ACT or Australian Commonwealth law
  • accessing, downloading or transmitting hate speeches and overt racism; material extolling the inherent or moral superiority or inferiority of a particular race, ethnic group, or sexual orientation; racial epithets; or religious bigotry
  • compromising the privacy of any person
  • using services for personal political purposes
  • Using services for industrial campaigns (apart from messages sent by officials of unions and professional associations for informational or consultative purposes)
  • attempting to gain unauthorised access to the computing resources of other organisations
  • disruption of the integrity of the Library’s data or information services.

9. Breach of Policy

Employees who participate in online communication deemed not to be in the best interest of the Library will be subject to disciplinary action under the Library’s Managing Misconduct Policy.

The Library will remove, or request the employee to remove, any material where there is a breach of the APS Values and Code of Conduct or a breach of the controls detailed in the Library’s Social Media Policy e.g. a Library employee infringes copyright at work or posts inappropriate content. 

10. Risks

Potential risks that may arise in employees using social media include

  • Could breach APS Values and Code of Conduct
  • Could plagiarise or breach copyright/Creative Commons conditions when using or repurposing material
  • Excessive time could be used browsing social media applications
  • Could put social media to an inappropriate use
  • Could bring the Library’s brand and reputation into disrepute
  • Represent a personal political view as that of the Library
  • Represent themselves as someone else either within the Library or outside of the Library
  • Could make promises or statements regarding the Library’s operations which are not true
  • Could disclose personal information relating to Library employees or users, or official information which is classified or commercial-in-confidence.

11. Record keeping

Generally, records created as a result of using social media are subject to the same business and legislative requirements as records created by other means such as a document. A judgment must be made about the material’s relevance to the Library’s business and captured in TRIM if necessary.

For example if the Library’s Twitter account or blog is the only way a new policy update is released to the public the tweets should be exported by the author to TRIM.  Employees should seek guidance from the Records Management Unit and refer to National Archives of Australia guidelines including Social media another type of Commonwealth record.

12. References

Internal documents

Staff Use of Internet and Electronic Mail (available on the Intranet)

Managing Misconduct Policy (available on the Intranet)

Social Media Communication Guidelines

Social Media Strategy

Other related documents

Social Networking FAQ from the Privacy Commission

Social media another type of Commonwealth record National Archives of Australia

APS Values and Code of Conduct in Practice with particular reference to:

Sect 1.3 Managing Official Information

Sect 4.15 APS Employees as Citizens

APS Circular 2012/1: Revisions to the Commission’s guidance on making public comment and participating online