The Jammu and Kashmir government on 26 December issued a set of norms for their employees regarding the extent of permissible social media usage, in a bid to monitor information flow that employees share with others in a contemporaneous manner.
In an official document issued on behalf of the Secretary to the Government, it has been stated that no government employee shall engage in any criminal, dishonest, immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct on social media which may be prejudicial to the Government.
Further, employees must not use their personal social media account for political activity, endorse posts/tweets/blogs of any political figure or use their account in a manner that could reasonably be construed to imply that the government endorses/sanctions their personal activities in any matter.
Employees were also directed to avoid posting inflammatory, extraneous messages in an online community with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion.
While employees may use their official title and department affiliation on their personal social media page for professional identification or biographic data, the government stated that it should not create an impression that they are communicating in an official capacity. Further, the document notes that employees should not use their official email addresses when setting up personal social media accounts.
On work-related posts, the government stated that employees must not post, comment or share public information on matters related to their work or the work of the department, but must properly safeguard privileged, confidential, classified, privacy-protected and/or sensitive departmental information. Moreover, they shall not tweet, re-tweet or share any electronic transmission, the order directed.
On the content front, the government stated that employees, directly or indirectly, must not publish, post or release any information on social media that is considered confidential or not public or any official document or any part thereof or information to any Government employee or any other person to whom he is not authorised to communicate such document or information.
Further, no Government employee through any post, tweet or otherwise should discuss or criticise on social media any policy pursued or action taken by the Government, nor participate in any such discussion or criticism that takes place on social media pages/communities or microblogs.
However, the order defines that an employee may, for the purpose of removing misapprehensions, correcting misstatements, and refuting disloyal and seditious propaganda, defend and explain to the public the policy of Government in his posts and tweets on social media.
Guidelines have also been issued for employees to be cautious of identity theft, using third-party apps, clicking on enticing ads, connecting with strangers, and keeping software and anti-virus updates, taking cognizance of the vast expanse of social media.
Non-adherence to the stated guidelines, the government said, will lead to the imposition of suitable penalties.