This guidance is to support public servants to use social media in a personal capacity appropriately and in line with their responsibilities.

This guidance does not apply to public servants’ use of social media an official capacity. For that guidance read Guidance for public servants’ official use of social media.

Public servants are free to use social media in their private lives, in the same way as other citizens. The  Standards of Integrity and Conduct, political neutrality obligations and your agency policies apply to all media communications outside work as with other forms of communication. There must be a clear separation between public servants’ work role and their personal use of media.

While some aspects of social media may be outside a user's control, public servants are expected to take reasonable care that their social media communications do not undermine the political neutrality of the Public Service. Maintaining political neutrality in a work role means separating personal political comments in any media, including on social media, from work life. For example, public servants must not link their personal political comments to their LinkedIn work profile.

As with other types of behaviour, private social media use will only be a concern to an employer if it harms the employment relationship in some way. Trust and confidence will be affected by social media use that involves unlawful conduct, a breach of the code of conduct or that otherwise brings the employer into disrepute.

Private comments can become public on social media, so it always pays to think before posting material online and to exercise good judgement when sending a post.

It is never a good idea to air workplace grievances online or be disrespectful of others when using social media. If someone is unsure about what is acceptable they may want to talk to their manager or an HR advisor at their workplace.

For public servants who operate their own websites, managing social media risks may involve, for example, moderating content on a site, or not responding to posts.