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There are no legal prohibitions against state agencies using social media sites or having social media identities. However, there are legal considerations.
This Social Media Legal Guidance Toolkit is designed for you and your legal counsel to review and apply before implementing social media for your agency or authorizing employees to participate on social media sites.
There are no legal prohibitions against state agencies using social media sites or having social media identities. “Social media sites” refers to websites that facilitate user participation, networking and collaboration through the submission of user generated content. A “social media identity” is a specific user identity or account that has been registered on a third party social media site (such as the Whitehouse account on Twitter). Social media includes: blogs, wikis, microblogging sites, such as Twitter™; social networking sites, such as Facebook™ and LinkedIn™; video sharing sites, such as YouTube™; and bookmarking sites such as Del.icio.us™.
In their capacity as social media users, agencies are in some circumstances protected against state and Federal statutory and common law legal claims arising out of their use of a social media by Federal statutes such as:
Most social media sites are hosted by third party providers. Therefore agencies have limited control over the functionality offered by such sites and the legal terms to which they are subject. Moreover, use of social media by state employees, both on the job and at home, raises new legal questions. In order to avoid legal pitfalls, agencies should, at a minimum, take the steps outlined in this guidance as part of their social media program.
 This means that the physical hardware and the software, that make the social media site possible are located at and under the control of an entity other than the Commonwealth.
Many state entities cannot readily accept some TOS terms that are in conflict with state entity legal requirements. Ideally, the TOS for each social media provider should be amended to be consistent with state law before agencies register for an account at a social media site.
EOTSS is currently working with National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) to develop a standard amendment to the TOS to be offered to each social media provider on behalf of the Commonwealth. These amendments should satisfy most, if not all, needs for state agencies. This approach of negotiating one standard amendment that can be used across states will save time and money for both the states and the providers. Understandably, in the absence of monetary incentives, the social media providers are unlikely to negotiate different TOS with hundreds of different state agencies within the Commonwealth (let alone among different states) given that such negotiation would be a costly effort.
As of November 2009, NASCIO had not finalized agreements with any social media provider. However, NASCIO expects to negotiate terms on a priority basis with widely used social media providers including YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter. The list will continue to grow.
Until social media providers agree to TOS for states, the agency, in consultation with its counsel, should carefully weigh the benefits of using social media tools for mission-related purposes such as public outreach, citizen engagement, personnel recruitment, and training against the inherent risks in accepting the social media provider’s TOS. Where the agency assumes the risks of moving forward with those sites and agreeing to their standard TOS, the agency should seek to mitigate the impact of these terms of service wherever possible by following the guidance in this document, in particular Sections 3, 5 and 6.
Review (if you already have them; create if you don’t) and revise four types of site related legal documents prior to using the social media site, in light of the content of this guidance. This guidance document refers to the following:
a. Agency Website Policies at Issue:
(1) Website Privacy Policies: Privacy policies discuss the collection, dissemination and protection of personally identifiable information at websites. All agencies are required to have website privacy policies at least as protective as that used for the Mass.gov site under the policy issued by ANF on April 21, 2001.
(3) Website Accessibility Policy: The Web Accessibility Policy discusses agency’s goals in providing a website that adopts and incorporates accessibility features so that users with disabilities can effectively use the website. It provides a position on how the agency achieves accessibility, any known issues with accessibility and how they are being addressed, and contact information so that users can obtain more information.
(4) Social Media Policy: The Agency’s Social Media Policy describes how the agency uses social media sites. It provides a brief description of the social media sites used by the agency, identifies whether the sites are controlled by a third party provider, and also provides the user with notice as to the limitations to the agency’s control on the content on such sites.
(5) Terms of Comment: The agency’s terms of comment describe how the agency manages user contributions to the agency’s controlled and managed social media site (such as an agency’s wiki or a blog). The terms of comment also describe to the user the review process prior to posting comments and the selection criteria for comment posting (e.g. on-topic, non-duplicative, not obscene or offensive etc.). The terms of comment should be tailored and posted at the agency’s relevant social media page (e.g. the blog page or the wiki page) so that user can easily and directly review the rules of the road for commenting.
b. Amendments to Website Policies:
(1) Indicate the Use of Third Party Providers:
Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Content includes all materials posted by the Executive Department of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to this site under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. A copy of this license is available online at http://creativecommons.org/licenses.
(3) Safe Harbor Provisions under the DMCA. Take steps to benefit from the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the DMCA) for on-line service providers (OSPs). Any entity which provides digital communications for users such as users who post comments on blogs or wikis falls within the definition of an OSP under the DMCA. The DMCA establishes a safe harbor provision to prevent infringement liability to OSPs due to a user’s posting. To fall within the safe harbor, the agency must:
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Executive Department respects the intellectual property of others, and we ask users of our Web sites to do the same. In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other applicable law, we have adopted a policy of terminating, in appropriate circumstances and at our sole discretion, users, subscribers, or account holders who are deemed to be repeat infringers. We may also at our sole discretion limit access to our Web site and/or terminate the accounts of any users who infringe any intellectual property rights of others, whether or not there is any repeat infringement.
Notice and Procedure for Notifying Designated Agent of Claims of Copyright Infringement
If you believe that any material on this Web site infringes upon any copyright which you own or control, or that any link on this Web site directs users to another Web site that contains material that infringes upon any copyright which you own or control, you may file a notification of such infringement with our Designated Agent as set forth below. Notifications of claimed copyright infringement must be sent to [Name Agency’s] Designated Agent for notice of claims of copyright infringement. Our Designated Agent may be reached as follows:
Address of Designated Agent:
Telephone Number of Designated Agent:
E-mail Address of Designated Agent:
i. Do not interfere with technical measures to identify and protect copyrighted works; and
ii. File a designation of agency with the Copyright Office . To take advantage of the safe harbor protections offered by the DMCA, an agency must register as a designated agent with the Copyright Office. The Copyright Office uses the requested information to identify the designated agent for notification of claims of infringement. Agencies should name their web manager as the designated agent for such claims. Use the sample identification form attached as Exhibit 4.
(4) Sample Policy Changes.
2. Attached as Exhibit 3 is the Executive Department’s standard Social Media Policy template, which agencies should modify and post prior to using agency hosted or third party hosted social media sites.
3. Attached as Exhibit 5 is the Executive Department’s standard Terms of Comment for agency blogs or wikis. Agencies must review, modify if necessary, and post these blog or wiki terms of comment at are near the site of an agency’s blog or wiki for ease of use. In the sample Terms of Comment provided, the policy notifies the user that user comments may be reviewed before posting. For each Agency blog or wiki, the Agency needs to assess whether it will moderate the posts and modify the Terms of Comment accordingly.
 A landing page is the first page clearly associated with your agency within a social media site. For instance, if your agency uses Facebook, the landing page would be your agency’s Facebook page.
Once the agency has decided to engage in the use of social media, the agency will entrust specific individuals with the responsibility of posting and updating the agency’s social media identity or page (e.g. writing the blog, drafting and sending out the micro-blogs, updating the social networking page). Depending on the content posted on the social media site, individual postings could result in employee misconduct warranting discipline or termination. However, to discipline or terminate employees for misconduct related to the postings and use of social media, agencies must articulate clear expectations for its use prior to securing the social media identity or page. Each agency employing social media should adopt at a minimum a Social Media Participation Policy, an example of which is attached hereto as Exhibit 6, which governs employees’ use of agency social media sites and identities and provides employees with clear direction about expectations of their conduct while contributing to these forms of communications. In addition, this policy should address employees’ personal use of social media outside of work.
This Social Media Participation in Exhibit 6 has been presented to the unions representing Executive Department employees and was rejected only by the union representing the Department of Correction (DOC) guards. Thus, the policy cannot yet apply to DOC union member guards. Agencies must adopt this policy as well as a correlating policy for their management employees prior to securing an identity on social media site.
At a minimum, an agency’s Social Media Participation Policy should refer to or address:
a. the Commonwealth’s Acceptable Use Policy, and the Codes of Conduct for managers and union members;
The Agency’s Social Media Participation Policy should distinguish the different uses of social media. The three distinct uses:
a. Required Work-Related Use: Use of social media that is sanctioned as part of employee’s job function (e.g. when an employee, as part of their job responsibilities, tweets on behalf of the Agency head on the Agency head’s Twitter account);
b. Personal use at work: An employee’s personal use of social media while at work (e.g. logging onto Facebook and providing personal updates to a Facebook page or twitter account during work hours using either their own or their agency’s information technology resources, when such activity is outside of the employee’s official job function);
c. Personal use outside of work: An employee’s use of social media in his or her personal capacity outside of work.
b. First Amendment: Respect external users’ (i.e. non-state employee users’) First Amendment rights. Although agencies can moderate some social media sites where the agency controls the content (e.g. on blogs and wikis) to impose content-neutral restrictions to speech i.e. restricting speech that is obscene, threatening, discriminatory, harassing, or off topic, agencies cannot use the moderation function to restrict speech uttered by a member of the public with which the agency or administration simply disagrees. External users have some First Amendment rights in posting content to public social media sites such as wikis and blogs and agency moderators must respect those rights by posting all comments other than those excluded for specific legitimate reasons identified in terms of comment, such as the reasons listed above.
c. Confidentiality and Privacy Considerations. Train agency social media posters to refrain from posting information that is not public record under the Public Records Law, Mass. Gen. L. ch. 66, sec. 10, as well as information which, although it may be public record, is considered sensitive by the agency.
d. Defamation: Caution agency social media users regarding defamation claims. Although the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is immune from defamation claims, employees acting in their individual capacity (not on behalf of the agency) are not. Under Massachusetts law, defamation is established by showing that the defendant published a false, non-privileged statement about the plaintiff to a third party that either caused the plaintiff economic loss or was of the type that is actionable without proof of economic loss. Some statements, like the imputation of a crime, are defamatory per se. As noted above, agency employees using social media sites should be cautioned to avoid statements that may be interpreted as defamatory.
e. Attorney, Doctor, or other Licensed Professional Considerations. Consider special issues that arise when an attorney, doctor, or other licensed professional uses social media site on behalf of the agency. Such posters must be mindful of the rules of professional conduct governing his or her communications. For example, if the agency intends to have an attorney acting in her capacity as an attorney provide posts to social media sites, the attorney must be cognizant of the relevant rules of professional conduct governing public communications (e.g. avoid false or misleading statements, rules governing solicitations, advertisements, the unauthorized practice of law, and the creation of an inadvertent attorney-client relationship). In addition, agency counsel should not violate attorney client privilege by providing legal advice to their clients on a social media site that is accessible to the public, other agencies, or any person who is not considered the attorney’s client.
a. Records Retention. Social media sites will contain communications sent to or received by state employees and are therefore public records subject to the Records Retention law. These retention requirements apply regardless of the form of the record (digital text, photos, audio, or video, for example). See the Records in Common Schedule, section F7 section 6 (a copy of which is attached to this document as Exhibit 7). Ensure that your agency retains a copy of the social media content in accordance with the Records in Common Schedule. Review your third party social media service provider’s terms of service for its records retention practices. Note that while third party social media providers will most likely save your content for some period of time, they generally will not save it indefinitely. To the extent that their policies are inconsistent with the Records in Common schedule, your agency should retain copies of social media posts such as by taking a periodic “snapshot” of the social media sites in order to meet your agency’s records retention obligations.
b. Open Meetings Law: Caution social media posters and moderators regarding the potential implications of the Open Meetings Law. The Open Meetings Law applies to meetings of governmental bodies in which a quorum of the body convenes to deliberate on any public business or policy within its jurisdiction. The terms meeting, governmental body, deliberation, and quorum are specifically defined in the Open Meetings Law. M.G.L. c. 39, §23A. As a guiding principle, deliberations will have ensued when a “quorum knows what a quorum thinks”, regardless of the forum of communications. Thus, a series of individual postings on a social media site which cumulatively convey the position of a quorum of the governmental body regarding a subject within its jurisdiction could constitute deliberations and in turn violate the requirements of the Open Meetings Law. Until the Attorney General’s position on the appropriate use of social media within the confines of the Open Meetings requirements has been clarified, members of governmental bodies must take care to avoid invoking the Open Meetings Law through posts to social media sites.
c. Accessibility. Agencies using social media sites must provide a link on the landing page to the accessibility policies, if any, of their third party social media host. Prior to securing a social media identity, agencies must assess and either correct, or provide an accommodation for, any significant accessibility issues associated with the social media site. Regardless of the accessibility of the third party host’s social media tools, agencies remain responsible for ensuring that the content that they post online, either from their own employees or external social media users, is accessible.
d. Consider Third Party Rights
(1) Intellectual Property Rights. When the agency posts media in any form to a social media website, the agency must ensure that it has the right to post the content. In the case of copyrighted works (e.g. literary expression, photos, videos etc.), the agency needs to ensure that either (1) it has the copyright in the work; (2) it has permission to use to work; or (3) the use of the agency’s work is permissible under statute. For example, in the case of third party works, such as photos, before posting to a social media site, the agency should receive written authorization from the third party copyright holder. Alternatively, the agency may incorporate another copyright owner’s work if such use falls within the fair use exception under the Copyright Right Act. See e.g. 17 U.S.C. § 107. The four factors that a court will use to determine whether an entity’s use falls within the fair use exception are:
i. the purpose and character of the use (e.g. commercial versus non-commercial, and/or whether the work was used for activities such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, research, and other related activities);
ii. nature of the copyrighted work;
iii. amount and substantiality of the portion of work used; and
iv. effect of use on the potential market for the copyrighted work.
A determination as to whether use falls within the fair use exception is fact specific. Thus, the agency needs to analyze on a case by case basis whether its use could legitimately be considered fair use. For example, for song sampling in videos to constitute fair use, the sample must be short, such as less than 30 seconds, and must not distract from the commercial market form the work.
(2) Privacy. Under some circumstances, videos and images of individual(s), may only be used when a written release has been obtained by the individual or by the parent or guardian when the individual is a minor. Copies of these rereleases should be kept on file by the posting agency. Agencies may alternatively alter the videos or images to effectively hide the identity of individuals where no permission has been granted. Please review our media release attached as Exhibit 8.
e. Advertising and Endorsement Limitations. Agencies making use of social media sites should investigate whether the social media provider incorporates advertisements into its site. State procurement and ethics laws prohibit Commonwealth employees or agencies from endorsing products or vendors. In addition, the .GOV registration program guidelines (applicable for those websites that are hosted within the Mass.govSM domain) generally prohibit ad campaigns and endorsements. Thus, the agency should try to limit its association with advertising, such as by (1) amending the TOS of the social media provider if possible; and (2) whenever possible use non-branded landing pages within the social media website (i.e. request a government branded channel on YouTube).
Questions. For social media related legal questions, contact ITD’s General Counsel Linda Hamel at 617 626 4404 or its Deputy General Counsel Stephanie Zierten at 617 626 4698.
Please note: The information contained in this guidance does not constitute legal advice for entities or individuals outside of the Executive Department of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If you wish to obtain legal advice, you should consult an attorney in your agency or organization concerning your particular situation and facts. Nothing presented on this site or in this toolkit establishes or should be construed as establishing an attorney-client or confidential relationship between you and the Information Technology Division or the Executive Department of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This guidance is provided only as general information, which may or may not reflect the most current legal developments or be complete.
 Note: The Open Meetings Law was re-written as part of the Ethics Reform Bill that was passed in 2009, with the changes going into effect in 2010. The changes to the Open Meetings Law do not affect the current analysis. However, as of the fall of 2009, ITD is currently analyzing options for compliance with the Opens Meeting Law through the use of social media tools. ITD plans to submit its analysis to the Attorney General’s Office for its review.
Thank you for using the website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [insert name of agency]([insert agency acronym]) We hope that [insert agency acronym] has made your dealings with your state government easier and more efficient.
2. Other Sites Have Other Policies. For your convenience, [INSERT AGENCY ACRONYM]’s website contains hypertext or other links to external Internet sites that are not provided or maintained by the Commonwealth. Please note that the Commonwealth cannot guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of these external sites. In addition, the inclusion of links to non-governmental sites is not intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites. In particular, please note that the agency uses various social media tools. Although some of the social media sites or identities might appear to be part of this site, many are hosted by third party providers. Please review our Social Media Policy [INSERT LINK TO SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY] for more information on the terms that apply for those sites.
3. Public Record and Copyright. All of the material posted on the Commonwealth's websites and accessible to the public without use of an authenticating and authorizing mechanism (such as a "PIN" or password) is public record. Most of the public records posted on Commonwealth Websites can be copied and used for any purpose. For example, all judicial opinions and all laws and regulations are public record. However, some of the public records posted on the Commonwealth's websites are also copyrighted material (for example, regulations based on technical codes developed and copyrighted by private organizations). With respect to material copyrighted by the Commonwealth, including the design, layout, and other features of [INSERT AGENCY ACRONYM]’s website, the Commonwealth forbids any copying or use other than "fair use" under the Copyright Act. "Fair use" includes activities such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, research, and other related activities. In addition, please be advised that [INSERT AGENCY ACRONYM] makes use of materials (including, but not limited to, photographs) copyrighted by third parties, which also cannot be copied or used for use other than "fair use" without permission of the copyright owner. If you want to make use other than "fair use" of any copyrighted information on this Web site, you must seek permission directly from the copyright owner. The only part of this website to which the copyright rules stated above do not apply is on social media pages that receive comment. Content on these pages is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Content includes all materials posted by the Executive Department of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, visitors to these pages agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to this site under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. A copy of this license is available online at http://creativecommons.org/licenses.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Executive Department respects the intellectual property of others, and we ask users of our website to do the same. In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other applicable law, we have adopted a policy of terminating, in appropriate circumstances and at our sole discretion, users, subscribers, or account holders on our website who are deemed to be repeat infringers. We may also, at our sole discretion, limit access to our website and/or terminate the accounts of any users who infringe any intellectual property rights of others, whether or not there is any repeat infringement.
If you believe that any material on this website infringes upon any copyright which you own or control, or that any link on this website directs users to another website that contains material that infringes upon any copyright which you own or control, you may file a notification of such infringement with our Designated Agent as set forth below. Notifications of claimed copyright infringement must be sent to [Name Agency’s] Designated Agent for notice of claims of copyright infringement. Our Designated Agent may be reached as follows:
4. No warranty, endorsement or liability. The Commonwealth makes no warranty that the materials contained within [INSERT AGENCY ACRONYM]’s website are free from copyright claims, or other restrictions or limitations on free use or display. The Commonwealth disclaims any liability for the improper or incorrect use of information obtained from [INSERT AGENCY ACRONYM].
With respect to the Agency’s social media pages or identities, which are identified on the Agency’s Social Media Policy [INSERT HOTLINK TO POLICY], any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other nongovernmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using the social media pages. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the Governor, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or its officers and employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying Governor Deval Patrick’s or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.
The [insert name of Agency] does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on the website is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. The [insert name of Agency] may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted by any other person. The views expressed on the website by non-state commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Massachusetts [insert name of Agency].
Thank you for visiting the [INSERT NAME OF AGENCY] (“[INSERT ACRONYM OF AGENCY]”) web site. Your privacy is one of our top priorities. The following policy applies only to the use of [Agency Name]'s Web site. Other websites operated by other state agencies or other entities have different policies. We strongly suggest that you read the privacy policies for each Commonwealth Website that you visit, and any external website that you visit through a link appearing at this site. In particular, please note that although some of the social media pages used by the Agency, might appear to be part of this website or at a webpage under the Agency’s control, some of these sites are actually hosted by a third party provider. Thus when visiting these third party social media sites, you are subject to different privacy policies and terms of service. Please review our Agency’s Social Media Policy to review more detailed information on the Agency’s use for specific social media sites and for links to the relevant terms of service and privacy policies for those sites.
A Privacy Partnership.
Your privacy with respect to the use of this website results from a partnership between the Commonwealth and you, the user. At this website, we attempt to protect your privacy to the maximum extent possible. However, because some of the information that we receive through this website is subject to Public Records Law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 66, Section 10, we cannot ensure absolute privacy. Information that you provide to us through this website may be made available to members of the public under that law. This policy informs you of the information that we collect from you at this site, what we do with it, to whom it may be disseminated, and how you can access it. Based on this information, you can make an informed choice about your use of this site. You can maximize the benefits of your privacy partnership with the Commonwealth by making informed choices about whether to share personally identifiable information with us through this site.
Personally Identifiable Information.
We use the term “personally identifiable information” to mean any information that could reasonably be used to identify you, including your name, address, e-mail address, Social Security number, birth date, bank account information, credit card information, or any combination of information that could be used to identify you.
Information Voluntarily Provided by You.
This website collects voluntary information from you through the e-mails that you send through this site and any comments posted on social media pages hosted by this website (such as blogs or wikis hosted by the Agency). All such comments and e-mails sent by you to this website will contain personally identifiable information.
Information Automatically Collected and Stored by this Website.
This website does not use permanent "cookies". However, the website uses temporary "session cookies" to allow visitors to interact with the Mass.gov Portal and to use online applications. "Session cookies" do not allow us to personally identify a visitor. These cookies are stored only in memory and are deleted when the user's browser is shut down.
This website does collect and store indefinitely your Internet Protocol ("IP") address (which does not identify you as an individual) as well as information about the date and time of your visit, whether a file you have requested exists, and how many "bytes" of information were transmitted to you over the Web from this website. We use your IP address to assess the frequency of visits to this website and the popularity of its various pages and functions. We will not attempt to match any personally identifiable information that you provide to us with your IP address, unless there are reasonable grounds to believe that doing so would provide information that is relevant and material to a criminal investigation.
Dissemination of Your Personally Identifiable Information.
We do not sell any personally identifiable information collected through this website. However, once you voluntarily submit personally identifiable information to us its dissemination is governed by the Public Records Law, the Fair Information Practices Act (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 66A), Executive Order 504, and other applicable laws and regulations. The Records Retention Law requires the [INSERT NAME OF AGENCY] to preserve records created or received by a state employee. Pursuant to this retention requirement, emails or messages sent to a state email account and information submitted via the agency’s Mass.gov website and comments posted or messages received via an official state agency page on a third-party web-site (such as an official agency profile on a social network) could be treated as state governmental records and may be permanently archived. Information that you submit voluntarily through third party social media sites where such sites are associated with [INSERT NAME OF AGENCY] and when such information is publically available, including your name, city or town, and the substance of anything that you post may be disseminated further by being posted online at this website or be publicly discussed by a member of the administration. In addition to social media postings, any emails or other communications you send us may be provided to a member of the public in response to a public records request. The information that you voluntarily submit through emails will be disclosed only to Commonwealth employees or officials with a “need to know” for purposes of fulfilling their job responsibilities. They will only use information to answer your questions, respond to any requests for assistance, and fulfill any legal obligations. Where appropriate, we may provide the information submitted by you via social media sites or email to the person or company that is the subject of your inquiry, or to a government agency responsible for the matters in your communication.
Your Access and Opportunity to Correct.
The Public Records Law and the Fair Information Practices Act provide you certain rights to get information about you that is in our records. To learn more about the circumstances under which you can get and correct this information, please click on the above references to these laws.
Because this website does not encrypt incoming e-mail or comments, you should not send information that you consider highly sensitive through this website. We use standard security measures to ensure that personally identifiable information sent via the social media pages or email is not lost, misused, altered, or unintentionally destroyed. We also use software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage. Except for authorized law enforcement investigations, the Agency makes no attempts to identify individual users of the Agency’s website email submission features or the Agency’s social media pages, such as [name Agency wiki or blogs] or their usage habits.
Special Protections Against Misuse Of Personally Identifiable Information Within Commonwealth Offices.
In 2008, Governor Deval Patrick issued Executive Order 504, which enhanced the privacy protection given to any information about you as a named individual held by the Executive Department of state government. Executive Order 504 limits the collection and dissemination of personally identifiable information within the Executive Department and requires Executive Department agencies to greatly enhance the security and integrity of such data. This website complies with Executive Order 504, so all of the personally identifiable information that you submit to this website is given the privacy protections set forth in Executive Order 504.
For questions about your privacy while using this website, please contact [INSERT NAME AT AGENCY] at [INSERT EMAIL ADDRESS].
An “Internet Protocol Address” or “IP Address” is a series of numbers that identifies each computer and machine connected to the Internet. An IP address enables a server on a computer network to send you the file that you have requested on the Internet. The IP address disclosed to us may identify the computer from which you are accessing the Internet, or a server owned by your Internet Service Provider. Because it is machine-specific, rather than person-specific, an IP address is not, in and of itself, personally identifiable information.
“Social Media”. A social media website is a website on a social media application that is usually maintained by an individual and has regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. A social media identity is a specific user identity that has been registered on a third party social media site and is associated with the Agency. Government social media sites or identities typically provide forums for commentary or news on topics related to the government agency that hosts the social media site or has secured the social media identity. A typical social media site (whether hosted by the Agency or a third party) combines text, images, and links to other websites including blogs, wikis, and other media related to the topic and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.
“Weblog” or “Blog”. A weblog or blog is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Government blogs typically provide commentary and news on topics related to the government agency hosting the blog. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to the topic, and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.
“Wiki”. A wiki is a website that uses collaboration software to enable the creation of a number of interlinked web pages. Many authors can contribute to the website and upload content to the site. Government wikis typically provide a venue for commentary and discussion regarding topics related to the government agency hosting the wiki. A typical wiki combines text, images, and links to other web pages outside the wiki also related to the topic, and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.
STANDARD EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
[INSERT NAME OF BLOG]: [INSERT AGENCY NAME] Blog
[INSERT NAME OF SOCIAL MEDIA SITE IN USE e.g. Twitter™]
[INSERT NAME OF SOCIAL MEDIA SITE IN USE e.g. email newsletter]
[INSERT NAME OF SOCIAL MEDIA SITE IN USE e.g. YouTube™]
Please note, that Records Retention Law of the Commonwealth requires the [INSERT NAME OF AGENCY] to preserve records created or received by a state employee. Pursuant to this retention requirement comments posted or messages received via an official state agency page on a third-party web-site (such as an official agency profile on a social network) will be treated as state governmental records and may be permanently archived. Information that you submit voluntarily through social media sites associated with this agency where such information is publically available, including your name, city or town, and the substance of anything that you post may be disseminated further by being posted online at this website or be publicly discussed by a member of the administration
Launched in [INSERT DATE], [NAME OF AGENCY BLOG, with hotlink] is the official blog of the [INSERT AGENCY NAME OR TOPIC]. The blog [describe purpose of blog]. We encourage you to visit this blog often and participate by subscribing to and commenting on our posts. Please review the [HOTLINK TO BLOG and ITS DESCRIPTION] and [HOTLINK TO BLOG COMMENT POLICY] pages to learn more about how this blog is and is not used by the [INSERT AGENCY NAME].
Launched in [INSERT DATE], [NAME OF AGENCY WIKI, with hotlink] is the official wiki of the [INSERT AGENCY NAME OR TOPIC]. The wiki [describe purpose of wiki]. We encourage you to visit this wiki often and participate by reviewing and commenting on the content. Please review the [HOTLINK TO WIKI and ITS DESCRIPTION] and [HOTLINK TO WIKI PARTICIPATION POLICY] pages to learn more about how this wiki is and is not used by the [INSERT AGENCY NAME].
To view the [INSERT AGENCY NAME OR AGENCY TOPIC] Twitter page, visit [INSERT HOTLINK]. Twitter is a free social networking site that allows users to send and read other users' short updates (up to 140 characters in length). While people use Twitter in many different ways for both personal and professional reasons, as a matter of policy:
To both increase transparency and save money on video hosting and streaming, [INSERT AGENCY NAME] publishes all of our video content, including press releases and to our YouTube channel at [INSERT URL TO YOUTUBE CHANNEL] and embed the videos back on our site.
The [INSERT AGENCY NAME] is responsible solely for the content uploaded to the official YouTube channel, and not for any related videos or linked videos linked from other users, nor for any advertising or other content contained on the YouTube website.
The [INSERT AGENCY NAME] publishes a [INSERT FREQUENCY] e-newsletter entitled [INSERT TITLE]. The e-newsletter is a resource for [INSERT LIST OF INTERESTED PARTIES]; however all interested parties are welcome to subscribe by registering here. [INSERT HOTLINK]. In addition, archived copies of previous editions are available on our website [MAKE HOTLINK].
Comments and suggestions on the content and design are welcome and should be emailed to [INSERT CONTACT NAME]. If you are currently receiving the e-newsletter and wish to unsubscribe, you may do so at any time by emailing [INSERT CONTACT NAME].
To both increase transparency and save money on photo hosting and streaming, [INSERT AGENCY NAME] publishes all of our photo content, including press releases and to our Flickr site at [INSERT URL TO FLICKR SITE].
The [INSERT AGENCY NAME] is responsible solely for the content uploaded to the official Flickr site, and not for any related videos or linked photos linked from other users, nor for any advertising or other content contained on the Flickr website.
If you use any of our photos for another work, such as a story, blog post, printing, etc., we require that you provide credit by stating at or near the photo, "Photo Courtesy of [INSERT DESCIRPTION OF CREDIT]."
While you can always check [AGENCY NAME]’s website for regular updates, it's often easier to have information come to you. RSS lets you do just that. When you subscribe to an RSS feed, updates come to you as we post them.
We offer RSS feeds of both our [INSERT NAME OF RSS FEEDS and brief description].
If you're unfamiliar with RSS Feeds and how to use them, please visit [INSERT LINK TO RSS FEED DESCRIPTION, such as: What is RSS? on mass.gov].
The [AGENCY NAME] provides video content to people via local cable access centers.
The [INSERT AGENCY NAME] is responsible solely for the content uploaded to the official MyMassTV site, and not for any related videos or linked photos linked from other users, nor for any advertising or other content contained on the MyMassTV website.
DMCA DESIGNATION OF AGENT FORM
Interim Designation of Agent to Receive Notification
of Claimed Infringement
Full Legal Name of Service Provider: ______________________________________
Alternative Name(s) of Service Provider (including all names under which the service
provider is doing business):_______________________________________________
Address of Service Provider:_______________________________________________
Name of Agent Designated to Receive
Notification of Claimed Infringement:______________________________________
Full Address of Designated Agent to which Notification Should be Sent (a P.O. Box
or similar designation is not acceptable except where it is the only address that can be used in the geographic location):
Telephone Number of Designated Agent:___________________________________
Facsimile Number of Designated Agent:____________________________________
Email Address of Designated Agent:_______________________________________
Signature of Officer or Representative of the Designating Service Provider:
Typed or Printed Name and Title: __________________________________________
Note: This Interim Designation Must be Accompanied by a $80 Filing Fee.
Made Payable to the Register of Copyrights.
Mail the Form to:
P.O. Box 70400
Washington, DC 20024
STANDARD EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT TERMS OF COMMENT
The purpose of this [blog or wiki] is to facilitate an ongoing dialogue between the public and employees of [insert name of Agency]. We encourage your comments, ideas and concerns and hope that you will find the information here helpful in understanding what your government is doing and what you can do to help. This may be a moderated site, thus comments may be reviewed for compliance with our policies before posting. We recognize that the web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage state resources, in those cases where the site is moderated, the moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.
We expect conversations to follow the rules of polite discourse and we ask that participants treat each other, as well as our employees, with respect. The following comments will not be posted:
For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments must relate to the topic that is being discussed within the [blog or wiki]. Comments will not be posted that include:
To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as social security number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, your comment may or may not be posted on the [blog or wiki]. If your comment is posted or remains posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain social security numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. You have the option of posting comments anonymously, but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.
Comments provided on pages is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Content includes all materials posted by the Executive Department of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, visitors to these pages agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to this site under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. A copy of this license is available online at http://creativecommons.org/licenses.
SAMPLE SOCIAL MEDIA PARTICIPATION POLICY
Social Media Participation Policy
This document formalizes the policy for employees that are managers, non-union employees and contractors (“users”) within the [INSERT AGENCY NAME] on the use of social media sites. This policy shall also extend to bargaining unit members, except that Section 3 (Required Work-Related Use of Social Media) shall apply to such members only if they have voluntarily agreed in writing with their employer to the use of social media as a job responsibility.
“Social media sites” refers to websites that facilitate user participation, networking, and collaboration through the submission of user generated content. A “social media identity” is a specific user identity or account that has been registered on a third party social media site (such as the Whitehouse account on Twitter™ or an employee’s personal account on Facebook™). Social media in general includes tools such as: blogs, wikis, microblogging sites, such as Twitter™; social networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn™; video sharing sites, such as YouTube™; and bookmarking sites such as Del.icio.us™.
This document addresses three distinct uses of social media, including:
a. Required Work Related Use of Social Media: Use of social media that is sanctioned as part of employee’s job function (e.g. when an employee tweets on behalf of the Executive Director of the Agency on the Executive Director’s Twitter account). This use is addressed in Section 3 of this policy.
b. Personal Use of Social Media at Work: An employee’s personal use of social media while at work (e.g. logging onto Facebook and providing personal updates to a Facebook page, which is outside of the employee’s official job function, while at work, during work hours). This use is addressed in Section 4 of this policy.
c. Personal Use of Social Media Outside of Work: An employee’s use of social media in his or her personal capacity outside of work time. This use is addressed in Section 5 of this policy.
2. User Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of any person subject to this policy that uses a social media to read, understand, and follow this policy. In addition, users are expected to exercise reasonable judgment in interpreting this policy and in making decisions about the use of social media identities. Any person with questions regarding the application or meaning of this policy should seek clarification from appropriate management. Failure to observe this policy may subject individuals to disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
3. Required Work-Related Use of Social Media
The [Agency name] is pleased to announce the launch of a new social media channels to communicate with customers. A social media identity is a specific user identity that has been registered on a third party social media site and is associated with the Agency, an official at the Agency, or a designated employee. Government social media sites or identities typically provide forums for commentary or news on topics related to the government agency that hosts the social media site or has secured the social media identity. A typical social media site (whether hosted by the Agency or a third party) combines text, images, and links to other websites including blogs, wikis, and other media related to the topic and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.
The purposes of [Agency name]’s social media identities and sites include [sample goals …
This document outlines the policy for [Agency name] employees’ conduct while contributing to or moderating this Agency’s social media sites or providing comments or updates to the Agency’s social media identities.
In addition to the topics addressed here, social media content must be in compliance with the [Agency name]’s relevant policies, including its harassment and discrimination policies, confidentiality policies, ethics rules, code of conduct, and other policies.
Social media Guidelines
a. Follow the Acceptable Use Policy. Know and follow [Agency’s Name]’s Acceptable Use Policy (the “AUP”) and any additional acceptable use policies for use of Commonwealth information technology resources adopted by your agency. Your agency’s social media site or identity is an “information technology resource” under the AUP.
b. You are Personally Responsible for What you Publish. You are personally responsible for the content you publish on your agency social media site. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time.
c. Considerations When Speaking on Behalf of your Agency. Identify yourself—name and, when relevant, role at your agency—when you discuss agency or agency-related matters on your agency social media website or in connection with the Agency’s social media identity. Write in the first person. It is important to make clear when you are speaking for yourself, and when you are speaking on behalf of the agency. Only speak on behalf of the agency when your commentary is based on the law governing your agency, or on your agency’s explicit written standards, policies, and practices, or you have received prior permission from your supervisor to address a particular topic in a particular way. However, there are occasions when agency employees will be asked on a social media site (such as a blog or wiki), as they are by the public in other situations, to explain how the laws to which the agency is subject, or the regulations and policies that it has issued, or its historic practices, will apply to a particular situation. There is often no black letter law, regulation, or policy, or historic practice, that addresses with 100% certainty an issue raised by the public. In their daily work with the public, state employees appropriately, on occasion, answer such questions by interpreting known precedents. When they do so, state employees often say something like “I don’t know what the official agency position would be in that situation, but in my opinion, …”. When faced with a similar question on a social media site, make clear, as you would if speaking in person or over the phone, that you are offering your opinion on a matter, not the agency’s official position.
d. Understand Users’ First Amendment Rights. Although the [Agency name] can moderate the social media sites that accept comments from the public (such as blogs and wikis) to restrict speech that is obscene, threatening, discriminatory, harassing, or off topic, we cannot use the moderation function to restrict speech with which the [Agency name] merely disagrees (i.e. subject matter restrictions). Users have some First Amendment rights in posting content to public social media sites hosted by state agencies. Moderators must respect those rights by posting all comments other than those excluded for specific legitimate reasons, such as those identified in the [Agency name] Terms of Comment [link].
e. Do Not Comment on Social Media Sites about Agency Business Outside the Agency’s Social Media Sites or Identities. Do not publish content to any website outside of your agency’s website that has to do with that agency or agency-related matters.
f. Respect Copyright Law. [Agency name] social media participants must abide by laws governing copyright and fair use of copyrighted material owned by others. Never reprint whole articles or publications without first receiving written permission from the publication owner. Never quote more than a short excerpt of someone else’s work and, if possible, provide a link to the original.
g. Protect Confidential Information. Don't provide your agency’s confidential information. Never post legally protected personal information that you have obtained from your agency (e.g., information that is not public record under the Public Records Law, Mass. Gen. L. ch. 66, sec. 10 or whose dissemination is restricted under the Commonwealth’s Privacy Act, Mass. Gen. L. ch. 66A, Executive Order 504, or under other Federal or State privacy laws or regulations). Ask permission to publish or report on conversations that occur within your agency. Never post information about policies or plans that have not been finalized by your agency, unless you have received explicit permission from your supervisor to post draft policies or plans on the agency social media for public comment.
h. Consider Your Content. As informal as social media sites are meant to be, if they're on a government domain or a government identity, they're official government communications. Social media sites will be sought out by mainstream media – so a great deal of thought needs to go into how you will use the social media in a way that benefits both the [Agency name] and the public.
i. Don’t Feed the Rumor Mill. You should merely say, "no comment" to rumors. Do not deny or affirm them—or suggest either denial or affirmation in subtle ways.
j. Handling Negative Comments. Because the purpose of many social media sites particularly agency blogs and wikis, is to get feedback from the public you should expect that some of the feedback you receive will be negative (and you may need to develop a thick skin!). Some effective ways to respond to negative comments include:
i. Providing accurate information in the spirit of being helpful
ii. Respectfully disagreeing
iii. Acknowledging that it is possible to hold different points of view
k. Provide Links. When you make a reference to a law, regulation, policy, or other website, where possible provide a link or at a minimum, the cite.
l. Respect Your Audience and Your Coworkers. Don't use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in your agency’s workplace. Remember that the Commonwealth’s residents reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view. Don't be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, threats of violence, etc.) but also proper consideration of privacy and of topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as party politics and religion. Do not use your agency’s social media presence to communicate among fellow Commonwealth employees. Do not air your differences with your fellow Commonwealth employees on your agency’s social media’s presence. Show proper consideration for others' privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as race, ethnic origin, and religion.
m. Be Transparent, Admit to your Mistakes, and Differ Respectfully. Don't pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don't alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so. When you see misrepresentations made about your agency by media or by other users, you may use the agency’s social media site or identity to point that out. However, you must do so with respect, and stick to the facts.
n. Use the Social Media Site or Identity Only to Contribute to your Agency’s Mission. When you contribute to your agency’s social media site or identity provide worthwhile information and perspective that contributes to your agency’s mission of serving the public. What you publish will reflect on your agency and the Administration. Social media sites and identities should be used in a way that contributes to the agency’s mission by:
i. Helping you and your co-workers perform their jobs better;
ii. Informing citizens about government services and how to access them;
iii. Making the operations of your agency transparent and accessible to the public;
iv. Creating a forum for the receipt of candid comments from residents about how government can be improved; and
v. Encouraging civic engagement.
o. Respond to Your Own Mistakes. If you make an error, own up to it and correct it quickly.
The [Agency name] policy is that once something is posted, it should stay posted. Only spelling errors or grammar fixes should be made without making the change evident to users. If you choose to modify an earlier post, make it clear that you have done so—do not remove or delete the incorrect content; provide the correct information and apologize for the error. Ways to accomplish this include:
i. Strike through the error and correct
ii. Create a new post with the correct information, and link to it from the post you need to correct or clarify.
Either method is acceptable. The goal is that for the social media identity or site to achieve transparency, we cannot change content that has already been published without making the changes clearly evident to users.
p. Use Your Best Judgment. If you're about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, review the suggestions above and think about why that is. If you're still unsure, discuss it with your manager.
q. Don't Forget Your Day Job. Make sure that your online activities, even if they are sanctioned or required by your agency, do not interfere with other parts of your job. Employee social media users are responsible for keeping their managers informed about any impediments that arise which could disrupt the agreed on publishing schedule.
r. Handling Media Inquiries. The [Agency name] social media identity or site may lead to increased inquiries from the media. If you are contacted directly by a reporter, you should refer media questions to the [Agency name] [INSERT NAME OF REFERRAL].
4. Personal Use of Social Media at Work
c. Must be in conformance with relevant portions of workplace policies and all relevant laws and regulations. Employees’ use of such sites must be in compliance with the [Agency name]’s relevant policies, including its harassment and discrimination policies, confidentiality policies, ethics rules, code of conduct, and other policies, as well as with state Ethics Law, Federal Copyright law, and other applicable laws and regulations.
d. Must not be excessive. Excessive use of social media during work hours may result in discipline or termination.
5. Personal Use of Social Media outside of Work
a. Employees’ personal use should not be attributable to the agency or employee’s job function at agency. An employee’s use and comments made at social media sites are subject to First Amendment protections. However, any personal use made of social media sites outside of work assignments or responsibilities, where such personal use is related to subject matter pertinent to the employee’s agency, must be conducted in such a manner that a reader would not think that the employee is speaking for or on behalf of his or her agency employer.
b. Must be in conformance with relevant portions of workplace policies. Employees use of such sites must be in compliance with the applicable portions of the [Agency name]’s relevant policies, including its harassment and discrimination policies, confidentiality policies, ethics rules, code of conduct, workplace violence, and other policies. Some of these policies, for example the Agency’s sexual harassment policy and the ethics rules, could apply to employee actions performed outside of normal working hours at third party sites.
PORTION OF RECORDS IN COMMON SCHEDULE 07-07 REFERRING TO WEB SITE PAGES
6 Website Content Records
Documents the posting of program business on websites. Includes public announcements, publications, policy, and other
(a) Official public announcements and notifications: Retain 3 years.
(b) Contract related matters: Retain 6 years from contract close.
(c) Publications: Permanent. Make arrangements with the State Librarian to transfer a copy to the State Library.
(d) All other web content: Retain based on the appropriate record series retention period as determined by the content and
function of the data.
1. Records on the website with long retention periods do not have to remain on the website for the duration of the retention
period. Provide documentation of the location of any records removed from the web.
2. See also record series "Website Documentation Records (F5-3)".
3. See also record series "Systems Documentation Records (F5-4)".
Agreement Regarding Image or Voice Recording
In consideration for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (the “Commonwealth’s”) agreement to restrict its use of any image of me or recording of my voice made by the Commonwealth to its lawful activities, I hereby:
1. Grant the Commonwealth, its employees, contractors, legal representatives, assigns, and agents, including any firm that may broadcast, publish or distribute such image or voice recording, in any manner whatsoever, (including without limitation, through print publications, television, the Internet, or the World Wide Web), the right and permission to use, reuse and/or broadcast, publish, and distribute in any form whatsoever, including print, photograph, video, audio, or other electronic media, or combination or media, my name, image, voice, and/or any personal data or records recorded in the media that is the subject of this release.
2. Transfer to the Commonwealth all right, title and ownership in and to any image of me or recording of my voice made by the Commonwealth, its employees, contractors, legal representatives, assigns, and agents.
3. Waive any right to inspect or approve of the original or any copies of images of me or recording of my voice created by the Commonwealth.
4. Release, discharge, and agree to hold harmless the Commonwealth, its employees, contractors, legal representatives, assigns and agents, including any firm that may broadcast, publish or distribute my image or a recording of my voice, in any form or through any medium referred to in section one above, from and against any liability as a result of any distortion, alteration, optical illusion, or use in composition form, either intentionally or otherwise, that may occur or be produced in the taking, processing or reproduction of my image or voice, its broadcast, publication, or distribution.
I hereby certify that I am over eighteen years of age, and competent to contract in my own name.
I understand that I will not be compensated in any way for the Commonwealth’s use of my image, likeness and/or voice recording, except as indicated in this Agreement, unless otherwise notified in writing.
My appearance (whether by image, voice, implication or otherwise) and any representations or implications contained in this media do not constitute an unreasonable, substantial, or serious interference with my privacy. To the extent that I hold rights in any creative works captured in the recorded media that is the subject of this release, I hereby grant the Commonwealth nonexclusive worldwide license to reproduce, distribute, perform, and display the recorded versions of those works.
I have read and understood the foregoing.
Dated: _______________________Signed: ____________________________________
Name: _________________________Address: _____________________________
I hereby certify that I am the parent and/or guardian of ______who is under the age of eighteen years. I hereby consent to the terms of the foregoing Agreement in connection with the Commonwealth’s use of his/her name, image and/or voice recording.