CIO Council releases social media privacy best practices

People today are more likely to be informed about government through 140 characters than a lengthy news update. To adapt to the changing times, federal agencies are leveraging social media to reach different audiences and engage citizens.

To assist with the challenges that come along with an increased online presence, the CIO Council announced in a blog post the release of its Privacy Best Practices for Social Media guide. FedScoop decided to highlight the most important takeaways:

Establishing a social media program

Agencies need to have a clear vision for their agencies goal with social media, and how they can use it to further their mission as an agency. To do this, each agency should establish an office to manage social media and have complete accountability.


Interacting with the public

Agencies should always strive to be 100 percent transparent when using social media. It’s important to monitor and avoid overcollection of information or unauthorized surveillance of the site, especially if it is being hosted by a third-party social media website, which often is the case.

Information sharing and retention

Rules and guidelines should be in place for sharing content on social media and engaging with audiences. This applies especially to information collected by federal agencies. The nature of that information should determine whom it is shared with, whether it be federal or non-federal.

Web measurement and customization technologies


The saying “keeping up with the Joneses” applies very much to social media. It’s important for agencies to monitor their customer interaction with their social media, so they can customize and adjust accordingly. Web analytics are crucial in dissecting site traffic information and monitoring who is clicking on the site.

Use of third-party websites

When using third-party sites, agencies should closely examine their privacy policy to make sure it fits in accordingly with the agencies standards.

URL-shortening technology

Even though URLs are very useful for social media sites, especially Twitter, agencies should be mindful that shortened URLs may be compromised, lead users to illegitimate websites and spread misinformation. For agencies looking to shorten a URL, the General Services Administration has a secure URL shortener.


Cybersecurity risks involved

Websites, especially social media sites, are constantly vulnerable to malicious attacks. It’s important for agencies to set up security measures to avoid breaches and attacks. Agencies should also be mindful of For Official Use Only documents that can be easily leaked by employees or hackers.

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