Social Media and Digital Engagement at the National Archives

NARA Twitter Account Following Guidelines

When a NARA Twitter account “follows” another Twitter account, it may be construed as an endorsement of that account holder.  The Policy and Planning Staff developed these guidelines in coordination with NARA’s General Counsel to avoid any potential ethical conflicts.  In general, the policies in NARA Directive 807, Content Rules and Requirements for NARA Web Sites (Internet, Intranet and NARA-hosted Extranets) and Presidential Library Web Sites, regarding external links, inform these guidelines and can be consulted for additional information.

A.   Official NARA Twitter accounts may “follow” certain types of other Twitter accounts, including those created and maintained by:

  • NARA, including Presidential Library and Foundation accounts
  • The Archivist of the United States
  • The Foundation for the National Archives
  • The Smithsonian Institution
  • The Library of Congress
  • Federal, state, county, city and international government entities and cultural institutions such as the White House, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the British Library
  • Non-profit cultural institutions such as museums, libraries, archives and historical societies and projects of these organizations.
  • For example, http://twitter.com/JQAdams_MHS  is a project of the Massachusetts Historical society  (http://www.masshist.org/adams/jqa.php)
  • Non-profit professional organizations that are not political in nature and whose mission relates to NARA’s mission, services or programs, such as Society of American Archivists, ARMA International or genealogical societies
  • School or university feeds related to NARA’s mission
  • Individuals posting in a professional capacity about topics related to NARA’s mission
  • NARA employees’ accounts should only be followed when they are accounts maintained as part of the employee’s job duties and are managed as federal records. For example, the Archivist’s Twitter feed is acceptable to follow.
  • A disclaimer on an employee’s Twitter account that their views are only their own is a sign the account is not an official one, and it should not be followed.

B.  Official NARA Twitter accounts should not “follow” certain types of other Twitter accounts, including those created and maintained by:

  • Commercial entities, such as companies or commercial websites, blogs, publications and periodicals
  • Commercial entities that have a working relationship with NARA, such as consultants or contractors
  • Non-profit groups whose mission is unrelated to NARA’s mission, services and programs
  • Any group or individual that is engaged in political activity, as covered by the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act defines political activity as an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, a candidate for partisan political office, or a partisan political group.

C.  Official NARA Twitter accounts maintained by individuals in a professional, official capacity (e.g. the Chief Information Officer) may “follow” other individuals’ Twitter accounts similarly created and maintained in a professional, official capacity.  These may include individuals employed by:

  • NARA, including Presidential Libraries and Foundations
  • The Foundation for the National Archives
  • The Smithsonian Institution
  • The Library of Congress
  • Federal, state, county, city and international government entities and cultural institutions such as the White House, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the British Library
  • Non-profit cultural institutions such as museums, libraries, archives and historical societies and projects of these organizations
  • Non-profit professional organizations that are not political in nature and whose mission relates to NARA’s mission, services or programs, such as Society of American Archivists, ARMA International or genealogical societies

D.  Official NARA Twitter accounts maintained by individuals in a professional, official capacity (e.g. the Chief Information Officer) should not “follow” other individuals’ Twitter accounts similarly created and maintained in a professional, official capacity if they are employed by:

  • Commercial entities, such as companies or commercial websites, blogs, publications and periodicals
  • Commercial entities that have a working relationship with NARA, such as consultants or contractors
  • Non-profit groups whose mission is unrelated to NARA’s mission, services and programs
  • Any group or individual that is engaged in political activity, as covered by the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act defines political activity as an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, a candidate for partisan political office, or a partisan political group.

E. Official NARA Twitter accounts maintained by individuals in a professional, official capacity (e.g. the Chief Information Officer) should not “follow” other Twitter accounts maintained by individuals in a personal capacity.  They should create separate, personal Twitter accounts for personal use.

If you have questions about whether it is appropriate for your NARA Twitter account to follow a particular Twitter account, please contact the Social Media Team at socialmedia@nara.gov.  We will provide further guidance and, when appropriate, will consult with the Chief Digital Access Strategist and NARA’s General Counsel.

Please note that these “following” guidelines for Twitter do not apply for NARA Facebook pages.  At the present time, NARA Facebook pages may only list other NARA Facebook pages as “Favorite Pages.”

Social Media and Digital Engagement at the National Archives >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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