AEC social media policy for temporary employees (including polling officials)

Updated: 12 May 2016

The AEC Social Media Policy applies to all temporary employees, and is particularly relevant to people working as polling officials.

This policy establishes guidance, procedures and protocol for temporary employees considering accessing or using social media in all its forms.

Temporary employees representing the AEC during election time are expected to uphold the Values and Code of Conduct of the wider Australian Public Service.

Employees should bear in mind that even if they do not identify themselves online as an AEC employee they could nonetheless be recognised as such, even when material is posted anonymously, or using an alias or pseudonym.

What is social media?

Social media is about publishing and sharing information, photos, audio, video and interacting with others online. The tools are usually free and require little or no specific training or technical knowledge to use.

Forms of social media may include:

  • social networking (e.g. Facebook, Instagram)
  • video/photo sharing (e.g. YouTube, Flickr)
  • blogs
  • microblogging (e.g. Twitter, Tumblr)
  • online forums/groups
  • wikis (e.g. Wikipedia)
  • the AEC's internal communication tools, such as SharePoint
  • discussion boards

Use of social media

The principles for using social media are really no different to more traditional forms of communication, such as face-to-face, telephone and email.

Using social media while working for the AEC

While at work, employees are not to:

  • use or post to social media, and
  • take any photos or record any audio or video inside the polling place.

As with other channels of communication only authorised AEC staff, who have undertaken relevant training, will be permitted to communicate on behalf of the AEC through social media.

Personal use

Many of us are using social media in a personal capacity. While the AEC does not wish to interfere with your private business, now that you are working for the AEC there are some additional things to bear in mind when using social media during the election period and also afterwards. We ask that you give careful consideration before accessing any social media.

If you are using social media in a private capacity, it is not appropriate for you to use your knowledge of AEC business to comment on any issue as this could risk the political neutrality of the AEC. Please be particularly mindful that business knowledge is something you have acquired as an employee, not as a private citizen.

You should not rely on a site's security settings for a guarantee of privacy, as material posted in a relatively secure setting can still be copied and reproduced elsewhere. Further, comments posted on one site can also be used on others under the terms and conditions of many social media sites.

As a rule of thumb, irrespective of the forum, anyone who posts material online should make an assumption that at some point their identity and the nature of their employment will be revealed.

Considerations for personal use of social media

  • You should consider the potential impact of your activities on the reputation and public confidence of the AEC before you make a comment or produce any content on social media. This is particularly the case if you identify yourself as an AEC employee for the election.
  • Respect the privacy of voters, your colleagues, and anyone else that you come into contact with in your role with the AEC.
  • Remember that political neutrality is a requirement for all AEC employees. It would be inappropriate to be seen to be active in political affairs in your social media.
  • Take great care when discussing anything to do with your work or the AEC. Don't discuss anything confidential and avoid any comment which may suggest you cannot act impartially or apolitically in your work.
  • You should be clear your views are your own, and not the AECs.
  • Always think twice before you post. Once posted there's no undo button.
  • Use other channels to resolve work-related concerns. If you are concerned about anything in your work, it is not appropriate to use social media to criticise the agency. You should discuss the issues with your Divisional Manager.
  • If you see anything online that you think the AEC should be aware of and respond to, please let the Divisional Manager know.

Considerations when making comment in an unofficial capacity

Temporary employees might wish to reflect on the following questions:

  • Could the comments reasonably be expected to cause a loss of confidence in your ability to work in an impartial and professional manner?
  • Would comment of this kind, without proper justification, be likely to lower or undermine the reputation of the AEC or of the APS as a whole?
  • Are these comments in line with how the community in general expects the public service to operate and behave?
  • Are these comments lawful? For example, do they comply with anti-discrimination legislation and laws relating to defamation?

Inappropriate use of social media can result in termination of employment.

Who should I contact for further information?

If you require assistance in interpreting any part of this policy, please contact AEC EmployTrainPay team on 02 6160 2678.