The use of social media in government to engage citizens and provide services continues to grow rapidly. An essential part of using social media responsibly is to be sure your agency is looking at the legal implications of using each new application, so it’s in compliance with federal and state laws.
Typically, social media applications present several objectionable clauses in their general terms of service that agencies cannot agree to without violating the law, including:
Federal-friendly Terms of service (TOS) agreements aim to solve these issues, as well as incorporate additional terms useful to agencies. But you must still work through your agency’s TOS point-of-contact before signing up for any social media product. These POCs work closely with your agency attorneys to be sure the appropriate agreements are in place.
Federal employees can look to GSA and their agency POCs for help navigating these waters.
Currently, there are almost 60 tools with federal friendly TOS agreements including:
- Twitter, and
Recent amendments include Google+, Storify, Stumble Upon and Survey Monkey. Consult the list of free social media tools with federal TOS agreements.
GSA works with service providers to amend their standard TOS for federal users – thus enabling the Federal Government to use these free tools the same way private industry can. This effort reduces the need for dozens of agencies to negotiate separate TOS agreements and to streamline negotiations with vendors through a single Point-of-Contact (POC).
To use one of these products, or for a refresher on how the TOS process works, visit HowTo.gov to get started.
State and Local Terms of Service The National Association of State Chief Information Officers and the National Association of Attorneys General have collaborated to negotiate terms of service with social media providers on behalf of state governments.
They’ve revised terms with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter made changes to their standard terms that apply to both state and local governments: