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Facebook, free speech, and public servants

Do I have to be careful about what I post on Facebook in my own time?

Within some limits, APS employees are free to engage in the life of their community, including on-line and on social media platforms like Facebook.

APS Values and Code of Conduct in Practice provides advice for managers and employees in the APS about the application of the Code of Conduct and the APS Values.

Section 6 of the publication discusses making public comment in more detail.

You can also get advice from the Ethics Advisory Service on 02 6202 3737.

Some tips to consider:

  • if you're expressing a political opinion make sure that you make it clear that the views you're expressing are your own and not your agency's
  • it's generally a bad idea to make comments about policy issues that are relevant to your work in the APS
  • be thoughtful about the language you use. Avoid language that is so extreme that people might wonder about your ability to serve the Government impartially
  • even if you're not speaking for your agency, remember that people will judge your agency by the tone and content of what you say
  • don't make derogatory comments about your agency or the people you work with
  • if you 'like' or share someone else's post, that can be seen as your endorsement of that post as though you had made the same comment yourself
  • even if you're not using your real name you can't rely on anonymity to protect you. Assume that whatever you say or write will be linked back to you eventually
  • don't rely on  your privacy settings to keep your posts private.

Your agency may have specific policies about making public comment. Check what's on your agency's intranet or get advice from your agency's Ethics Contact Officer.

If you have any questions about this article, please submit them via the form on the Integrity: your questions answered page.

And commenting in your own time doesn't provide you with a Get Out of Jail Free card. The APS Values in particular apply to APS employees at all times. We all have an obligation to uphold the good reputation of the APS and our agencies.