Social Media Rules Tightened For Civil Servants

The Establishment Division has issued a notification updating a set of social media rules for civil servants.

The notification issued on August 25 mentions that no civil servant was allowed to use social media without permission from the government. It said that the social media rules issued in July last year also prevented civil servants from posting anything on social media that might embarrass the government; they are not permitted to post anything against the ‘ideology and integrity of Pakistan’ nor something which might damage Pakistan’s relations with other countries.

Despite these rules, the notification noted, many civil servants had been seen engaging on social media via virtual communities or online groups on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, where they shared their opinions on a host of subjects, and their behavior did not conform to the rules of conduct outlined earlier.

“Such actions range from unauthorized relaying of official information to disseminating wrong or misleading information, to airing of political or sectarian views.”

In view of this, an updated set of social media rules have been issued. Under these rules, “the same instructions which are applicable on civil servants on public forums or publishing articles in print media, shall apply on the use of social media by them.”

Civil servants are not permitted to “indulge in unauthorized disclosure of official information, or sharing of official documents which they came across during the course of performing their duties on social media.”

In order to maintain impartiality and objectivity, civil servants have been barred from “partaking in any discussion on social media, or forward information or messages that expresses their opinion on political issues.”

Civil servants have been reminded that they are not permitted to share information about government matters which appear to be misleading or inauthentic. They have also been prevented from making any “disparaging remarks against any individual or group or sect or faith.”

These rules are not meant to discourage constructive use of social media, the notification clarifies. Government departments may continue to use social media to solicit feedback from the public and seek suggestions for improvement in service deliver.

Failure to abide by the rules may result in disciplinary action, the notification says.