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Elections Present Questions, but DoD Has Answers

By Yonca Poyraz-Dogan
Navy Office of Information

As midterm elections are at the door, some guidance on the use of social media, military support of political activities and use of government sources could help to distinguish between official business and activities of candidates. Additionally, how about what to avoid while using social media?

The Department of Defense (DoD) has the answers concerning these issues. First of all, DoD encourages all of its members to carry out the obligations of citizenship, including voting and encourages others to vote. However, active duty members should not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause.

A DoD memorandum also indicates that commanders responsible of military post offices will ensure expeditious processing of balloting material and proper postmarking and date stamping of absentee ballots.

Regarding public commentary and endorsement, DoD guidelines state that any activity that may be reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly associating with DoD, or any component or personnel of the department, with a partisan political activity or is otherwise contrary to the spirit should be avoided.

When it comes to online activities and use of social media, DoD memorandum states that Facebook and Twitter are specifically mentioned because of their popularity but, the guidance provided applies equally to all other social media platforms, such as Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc. The following policy guidance addresses the use of social media for political purposes:

  • In general, all federal employees and active duty members may use social media and email to express his or her own personal views on public issues or political candidates, much the same as they would be permitted to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper. If a social media site/post identifies the member as on active duty — or if the member is otherwise reasonably identifiable as an active duty member — then the entry will clearly and prominently state that the views expressed are those of the individual only and not those of the DoD. An active duty member may not, however, engage in any partisan political activity. Further, an active duty member may not post or make direct links to a political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause because such activity is the equivalent of distributing literature on behalf of those entities or individuals, which is prohibited by reference.
  • An active duty member may become a friend of or like the Facebook page, or follow the social media account of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign, group or cause. However, active duty members will refrain from engaging in activities with respect to those entities’ social media accounts that would constitute political activity. This would include, for example, suggesting that others like, friend, or follow the political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause, or forwarding an invitation or solicitation from said entities to others.
  • Active duty members are subject to additional restrictions based on the Joint Ethics Regulation, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and service-specific rules, to include rules governing the use of government resources and governmental communications systems, such as email and internet usage.
  • Members of the armed forces not on active duty are not subject to the social media restrictions listed above so long as the member does not act in a manner that could reasonably create the perception or appearance of official sponsorship, approval or endorsement by the DoD or the member’s service.

In addition to being mindful about your political posts, tweets, snaps, etc., don’t forget about expectations for online conduct by Sailors and Department of the Navy civilians.

Do you still have questions? Then, take a look at this:

What is the DoD policy regarding political activities by members of the armed forces?
DoD encourages members of the armed forces to carry out the obligations of citizenship, including voting and encourages others to vote. However, active duty members will not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel will avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause.

What political activities can a service member participate in and which ones are prohibited?
DoD has a longstanding policy of encouraging military personnel to carry out the obligations of citizenship, and certain political activities are permitted, such as voting and making a personal monetary donation. However, active duty members will not engage in partisan political activities, and all military personnel will avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause. Examples of political activities that are prohibited include campaigning for a candidate, soliciting contributions, marching in a partisan parade and wearing the uniform to a partisan event. For a complete list of permissible and prohibited activities, please consult DoD Directive 1344.10.

Does that mean a service member can vote, but not actively support a particular candidate or cause?
Unquestionably, service members can exercise their right to vote. However, active duty members will not engage in partisan political activities and will avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement. For a list of permissible and prohibited activities, please consult DoD Directive 1344.10.

What about DoD civilians?
DoD civilians may express their opinions about a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race by posting, liking, sharing, tweeting or retweeting, but there are a few limitations. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from:

  • Engaging in any political activity via social media while on duty or in the workplace
  • Referring to their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity at any time (note that including an employee’s official title or position on one’s social media profile, without more, is not an improper use of official authority)
  • Suggesting or asking anyone to make political contributions at any time, including providing links to the political contribution page of any partisan group or candidate in a partisan race or liking, sharing or retweeting a solicitation from one of those entities and invitation to a political fundraising event. However, an employee may accept an invitation to a political fundraising event from such entities via social media.

Does DoD support and encourage its personnel to vote?
DoD encourages all members of the armed forces and federal civilian employees to register and vote. The department actively supports the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) to ensure its personnel have the resources, time and ability to participate in their civic duty. Additionally, department leaders and military commanders appoint voting assistance officers at every level of command and ensure they are trained and equipped to provide voting assistance.

Does DoD provide any voting assistance?
Yes, DoD provides voting assistance via the Federal Voting Assistance Program. FVAP works to ensure service members, their eligible family members and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so – from anywhere in the world via FVAP.gov. The services also provide voting assistance officers at the unit level to facilitate in-person assistance when required.

Finally, the above information doesn’t cover every situation. If in doubt, consult your command’s ethics counselor.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/11/02/elections-present-questions-but-dod-has-answers/ poyrazdogany

Elections Present Questions, but DoD Has Answers

By Yonca Poyraz-Dogan
Navy Office of Information

As midterm elections are at the door, some guidance on the use of social media, military support of political activities and use of government sources could help to distinguish between official business and activities of candidates. Additionally, how about what to avoid while using social media?

The Department of Defense (DoD) has the answers concerning these issues. First of all, DoD encourages all of its members to carry out the obligations of citizenship, including voting and encourages others to vote. However, active duty members should not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause.

A DoD memorandum also indicates that commanders responsible of military post offices will ensure expeditious processing of balloting material and proper postmarking and date stamping of absentee ballots.

Regarding public commentary and endorsement, DoD guidelines state that any activity that may be reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly associating with DoD, or any component or personnel of the department, with a partisan political activity or is otherwise contrary to the spirit should be avoided.

When it comes to online activities and use of social media, DoD memorandum states that Facebook and Twitter are specifically mentioned because of their popularity but, the guidance provided applies equally to all other social media platforms, such as Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc. The following policy guidance addresses the use of social media for political purposes:

  • In general, all federal employees and active duty members may use social media and email to express his or her own personal views on public issues or political candidates, much the same as they would be permitted to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper. If a social media site/post identifies the member as on active duty — or if the member is otherwise reasonably identifiable as an active duty member — then the entry will clearly and prominently state that the views expressed are those of the individual only and not those of the DoD. An active duty member may not, however, engage in any partisan political activity. Further, an active duty member may not post or make direct links to a political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause because such activity is the equivalent of distributing literature on behalf of those entities or individuals, which is prohibited by reference.
  • An active duty member may become a friend of or like the Facebook page, or follow the social media account of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign, group or cause. However, active duty members will refrain from engaging in activities with respect to those entities’ social media accounts that would constitute political activity. This would include, for example, suggesting that others like, friend, or follow the political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause, or forwarding an invitation or solicitation from said entities to others.
  • Active duty members are subject to additional restrictions based on the Joint Ethics Regulation, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and service-specific rules, to include rules governing the use of government resources and governmental communications systems, such as email and internet usage.
  • Members of the armed forces not on active duty are not subject to the social media restrictions listed above so long as the member does not act in a manner that could reasonably create the perception or appearance of official sponsorship, approval or endorsement by the DoD or the member’s service.

In addition to being mindful about your political posts, tweets, snaps, etc., don’t forget about expectations for online conduct by Sailors and Department of the Navy civilians.

Do you still have questions? Then, take a look at this:

What is the DoD policy regarding political activities by members of the armed forces?
DoD encourages members of the armed forces to carry out the obligations of citizenship, including voting and encourages others to vote. However, active duty members will not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel will avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause.

What political activities can a service member participate in and which ones are prohibited?
DoD has a longstanding policy of encouraging military personnel to carry out the obligations of citizenship, and certain political activities are permitted, such as voting and making a personal monetary donation. However, active duty members will not engage in partisan political activities, and all military personnel will avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause. Examples of political activities that are prohibited include campaigning for a candidate, soliciting contributions, marching in a partisan parade and wearing the uniform to a partisan event. For a complete list of permissible and prohibited activities, please consult DoD Directive 1344.10.

Does that mean a service member can vote, but not actively support a particular candidate or cause?
Unquestionably, service members can exercise their right to vote. However, active duty members will not engage in partisan political activities and will avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement. For a list of permissible and prohibited activities, please consult DoD Directive 1344.10.

What about DoD civilians?
DoD civilians may express their opinions about a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race by posting, liking, sharing, tweeting or retweeting, but there are a few limitations. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from:

  • Engaging in any political activity via social media while on duty or in the workplace
  • Referring to their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity at any time (note that including an employee’s official title or position on one’s social media profile, without more, is not an improper use of official authority)
  • Suggesting or asking anyone to make political contributions at any time, including providing links to the political contribution page of any partisan group or candidate in a partisan race or liking, sharing or retweeting a solicitation from one of those entities and invitation to a political fundraising event. However, an employee may accept an invitation to a political fundraising event from such entities via social media.

Does DoD support and encourage its personnel to vote?
DoD encourages all members of the armed forces and federal civilian employees to register and vote. The department actively supports the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) to ensure its personnel have the resources, time and ability to participate in their civic duty. Additionally, department leaders and military commanders appoint voting assistance officers at every level of command and ensure they are trained and equipped to provide voting assistance.

Does DoD provide any voting assistance?
Yes, DoD provides voting assistance via the Federal Voting Assistance Program. FVAP works to ensure service members, their eligible family members and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so – from anywhere in the world via FVAP.gov. The services also provide voting assistance officers at the unit level to facilitate in-person assistance when required.

Finally, the above information doesn’t cover every situation. If in doubt, consult your command’s ethics counselor.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/11/02/elections-present-questions-but-dod-has-answers/ poyrazdogany

Do’s and Don’ts for Voicing Your Political Opinion on Social Media

By Jason Kelly
U.S. Navy Digital Media Engagement Director

Graphic of social media icons

Back in 2008, political and media analysts dubbed that year’s presidential election the YouTube election since the candidates used the platform to post videos longer than traditional political ads.

Fast forward to 2016 where now a third of 18- to 29-year-olds say social media is their most helpful source for learning about this year’s presidential election, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

More social media opportunities exist now for Americans to share everything from their favorite cat photos to their personal opinions, including about this year’s presidential election.

So what do Sailors and Department of the Navy civilians need to know before they post, tweet and snap their political opinions? The information below doesn’t cover everything but, if in doubt, consult your command’s ethics representative.

Service members.

Let’s start with Sailors. NAVADMIN 055-16 and DoD Directive 1344.10 spell it out.

Active-duty Sailors may generally express their personal views about public issues or political candidates using social media — just like they can write a letter to a newspaper’s editor. If the social media site or content identifies the Sailor as on active duty (or if they’re reasonably identifiable as an active-duty Sailor), then the content needs to clearly and prominently state that the views expressed are those of the individual only and not those of the Department of Defense (DoD). However, active-duty service members may not engage in any partisan political activity such as posting or making direct links to a political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause. That’s the equivalent of distributing literature on behalf of those entities or individuals, which is prohibited.

Active-duty Sailors can like or follow accounts of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign, group or cause. However, they cannot suggest that others like, friend or follow them or forward an invitation or solicitation.

Remember, active-duty service members are subject to additional restrictions based on the Joint Ethics Regulation, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and rules about the use of government resources and government communications systems, including email and internet.

What about Sailors who aren’t on active duty? They’re not subject to the above social media restrictions so long as they don’t reasonably create the perception or appearance of official sponsorship, approval or endorsement by the DoD.

Department of the Defense civilians.

DoD civilians need to consider the Hatch Act and DoD policy.

In general, federal employees may use social media and email and comply with the Hatch Act if they:

  • Don’t engage in political activity while on duty or in the workplace, even if the employee is using their personal smartphone, tablet or laptop to do so. Federal employees are “on duty” when they’re in a pay status (including during telework hours) other than paid leave or are representing the government in an official capacity
  • Don’t engage in political activity in an official capacity at any time
  • Don’t solicit or receive political contributions at any time

Political activity refers to any activity directed at the success or failure of a political party or partisan political group or candidate in a partisan race.

Below is a list of some frequently asked questions. For additional FAQs, visit http://www.dod.mil/dodgc/defense_ethics/resource_library/hatch_act_and_social_media.pdf.

Q: May a federal employee engage in political activity on social media?

A: Yes, they may express their opinions about a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race by posting, liking, sharing, tweeting or retweeting, but there are a few limitations. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from:

  • Engaging in any political activity via social media while on duty or in the workplace
  • Referring to their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity at any time (note that including an employee’s official title or position on one’s social media profile, without more, is not an improper use of official authority)
  • Suggesting or asking anyone to make political contributions at any time, including providing links to the political contribution page of any partisan group or candidate in a partisan race or liking, sharing or retweeting a solicitation from one of those entities and invitation to a political fundraising event. However, an employee may accept an invitation to a political fundraising event from such entities via social media.
A graphic that explains the difference between restricted and less restricted employees.

U.S. Navy graphic by Austin Rooney/Released

 

Further restricted employees also may express their opinions about a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race by posting or sharing content, but there are a few limitations. In addition to the limitations above, the Hatch Act prohibits further restricted employees from:

  • Posting or linking to campaign or other partisan material of a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race
  • Sharing those entities’ social media sites or their content, including retweeting

Q: If a federal employee lists his or her official title or position on Facebook, may he or she also complete the “political views”?

A: Yes, identifying political party affiliation on a social media profile, which also contains one’s official title or position, without more, isn’t an improper use of official authority.

Q: May a federal employee display a political party or campaign logo or a candidate photograph as his profile picture?

A: Yes, but subject to the following limitations. Because a profile picture accompanies most actions on social media, a federal employee would not be permitted—while on duty or in the workplace—to post, share, tweet or retweet any social media content because each such action would show their support for a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race, even if the content of the action is not about those entities.

Q: May a federal employee – while on duty or in the work place – send or forward a partisan political email from his or her government email account or their personal email account to others?

A: No, they can’t send or forward a partisan political email from either their government email account or their personal email account (even using a personal device) while at work. A partisan political email is defined as one that is directed at the success or failure of a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race.

Again, the above information doesn’t cover every situation. If in doubt, consult your command’s ethics counselor.

Don’t forget the presidential election is November 8. For voting information, visit DoD’s Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website.

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2016/07/19/dos-and-donts-for-voicing-your-political-opinion-on-social-media/ Jason Kelly