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Social Media Usage Policy

Social media today has become a force to reckon with. From staying  in touch with friends & family; businesses to reach out to customers or informing the community about the Ministry's services, social media when used effectively, sensibly and practically can bring about a change for good.

The intention of this policy is to establish a culture of openness, trust and integrity in activities of the Ministry and to serve as a guidance to assist employees in complying with the obligations, their responsibilities, when using social media in a personal capacity and manage the risks associated.

Keeping that in mind, we herein have provided our social media usage policy. As new tools and trends emerge, this document will, of necessity, evolve.

Definition: Social media refers to user-generated information, opinion and content shared over open digital networks, services, apps and may include (although is not limited to) social networking sites (for example Facebook, LinkedIn); video & photo sharing websites (for example Flickr, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat); micro-blogging (Twitter, Tumblr); wikis, mailing lists, chat rooms, user groups; instant messaging, video conferencing (SMS, What’sApp, Skype), geo-spatial tagging (Foursquare) to name a few.

Employees: Includes permanent staff, management, department heads, contractors & temporary staff.

Identity: You are responsible for what you post. Any online activity conducted with official email address or that can be traced back to MoH's domain, or using the department's network, resources (laptop, smartphone, tablet) attached to your name implies that you are acting on the Ministry's behalf. All actions are public, and you will be held fully responsible for any and all said activities.

Personal: Outside the workplace, your rights to privacy and online activity conducted on your personal social networks with your personal email address. However, what you publish on such personal online sites should never be attributed to MoH and should not appear to be endorsed by or originated from MoH. If you choose to list your work affiliation on a social network, then you should regard all communication on that network as you would in a professional network. Online lives are ultimately linked whether or not you choose to mention MoH in your personal online networking activities.

Be transparent: When participating in any online community, disclose your identity and affiliation with MoH, Be direct, informative and brief. When posting a comment to a blog, always use your name. Never create an alias, and never be anonymous.

Compliance: Follow the rules as stipulated by MoH’s staff manual and HR policies. These rules also apply to social networks and other public online spaces as well.

Terms of usage: Respect the terms and conditions of use that have been established by each venue used for your social networking activities.

Obey the law: Do not post any information or conduct any online activities that might violate applicable local, state, or federal laws or regulations, or any ethical guidelines for our profession.

Integrity: Never be false or misleading in your online credentials. Main accuracy in all online bios and ensure there is no embellishment, false or exaggerated claims of their achievements or qualifications. Do not use the words "expert" or "specialized" sparingly and only when such claims can be substantiated and are approved for usage.

Prior Approval: Before engaging in social media available outside the department as a representative of the department, employees must become authorized to comment. Employees may not comment unless authorized to be a representative spokesperson of the department. To be authorized to comment or be an authorized spokesperson, employees must have the explicit approval of the Director of Communications.

Authorized representatives must
Disclose that they are an employee/contractor of the department, and use only their own identity, unless authorized to use an approved official account or avatar; disclose and comment only on information classified as public domain information; ensure that all content published is accurate and not misleading and complies with all relevant departmental policies and other relevant requirements; ensure they are not the first to make an announcement (unless specifically given permission to do so); comment only on their area of expertise and authority; ensure comments are respectful of the community in which they are interacting online; adhere to the terms of use for using the social media platform or website, any other applicable laws, and the department's IT or HR Policies.

Authorized representatives or employees must not: 
-Post or respond to material that is offensive, obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, bullying, discriminatory, hateful, racist, sexist, infringes copyright, constitutes a contempt of court, breaches a court suppression order, or is otherwise unlawful.

-Imply that they are authorized to speak as a representative of the department or the government, nor give the impression that the views expressed are those of the department or the government

-Use the identity or likeness of another employee, contractor or other member of the department

-Use their official/department email ID, logos or insignia that may give the impression of official support or endorsement of their personal comment

-Use or disclose any confidential information or personal information obtained in their capacity as an employee or contractor of the department

-Post material that is, or might be construed as, threatening, harassing, bullying or discriminatory towards another employee or contractor of the department

-Comment or post any material that might otherwise cause damage to the department's reputation or bring it into disrepute.

Personal use of social media: This policy does not to discourage nor unduly limit employees using social media for personal expression or other on-line activities in their personal life.

Employees should be aware of and understand the potential risks and damage to the department that can occur, either directly or indirectly from their personal use of social media and should comply with this policy to ensure that the risk is minimized.

Employees are personally responsible for content published in their personal capacity on any form of social media platform. When in doubt, seek guidance from the department on how to comply with the following obligations.

To avoid breaching this policy employees must: 
-only disclose and discuss publicly available information
-ensure that all content published is accurate and not misleading and complies with all relevant departmental policies and other government requirements
-expressly state that stated views are personal and are not representative of the department or the government 
-behave politely and respectfully
-adhere to the terms of use for using the social media platform or website, and adhere to legislation including copyright, privacy, defamation, contempt of court, discrimination, harassment and any other applicable laws, and the department's Privacy Policy.

Reasonable and unreasonable personal use: When accessing social media via the department's Internet, intranet and extranet systems, employees must do so in accordance with the department’s Acceptable Use of Computer Services Policy, which requires employees to use these resources ‘reasonably’, in a manner that does not interfere with work, and is not inappropriate or excessively accessed.

Examples of reasonable use include:
-Re-tweeting, posting content from the official MoH website on a personal Twitter account or Facebook
-Participating in working groups or official forums 
-Usage during a lunch break or after hours or at times acceptable to your Senior. 

Examples of wrong usage or breach of this policy include: 
-Using departmental resources to access or post any material that is fraudulent, harassing, threatening, bullying, embarrassing, profane, obscene, racist, inappropriate or unlawful.

-Using the department’s resources to provide comments to journalists, lobby groups other than as authorized in the course of their official duties.

-Publishing conversations or information that is deemed confidential or classified that are internal in nature.

-Client personal information should not be made available on social media unless express consent has been obtained from the client in relation to the use and disclosure of their personal information.

Copyright: Employees must respect copyright laws and fair use of copyrighted material. All employees are expected to attribute work to the original author or source wherever possible.

Harassment and bullying: No bullying or harassing comments employees, customers, even on their own private social networks or out of office hours. Abusive, harassing, threatening or defaming postings. This will result in disciplinary action being taken.

Defamation: Employees are to refrain from publishing material that may cause injury to another person, organization, association or reputation, and should seek further legal guidance if publication of such material is thought to be necessary.

Contempt of court: All employees must exercise care if referring to pending court proceedings to avoid publishing material that may have a tendency to prejudice those proceedings, in particular, material that will not be part of the evidence in those proceedings.

Customer Names: Never use a customer’s name in a social media post unless you have written permission to do so.

Credit appropriately: Identify all copyrighted or borrowed material with citations and links. When publishing any material online that includes another's direct or paraphrased quotes, thoughts, ideas, photos or videos, always give credit to the original material or author, where applicable.

Fact-check: Always evaluate your contribution's accuracy and truthfulness. Before posting any online material, ensure that the material is accurate, truthful and without factual error. Spell- and grammar-check everything. Content never disappears entirely once it has been posted. Correct errors promptly. If you find that your blog entry or social post contains an error or mistake, correct it. Since transparency is key, admit your mistake, apologize if necessary, correct it and move on.

Blogs: The content must be informative only, and nothing in the content should propose a commercial transaction or be for the purpose of directly gaining a commercial transaction.

Comments: Refrain from writing about controversial or potentially inflammatory subjects, including politics, sex, religion or any other non-business-related subjects. Keep the tone of your comments respectful and informative, never condescending or berating. Use sentence-case format, not capital letters.

Don't get personal: Avoid personal attacks, trolling, online fights and hostile comments. If a fellow user posts a comment you don't agree with, voice your opinion respectfully, but do not escalate the conversation to a heated argument. Write reasonably, factually and with good humor. Understand and credit the other person's point of view. Avoid any communications that could result in personal, professional or credibility attacks. If in doubt, don't respond!

Confidentiality: Do not disclose confidential information. Honor the terms of your contracts with MoH and contracts we have with customers. Sharing this type of information, even unintentionally, can result in legal action against you, MoH or the customer. Avoid forums where there is little control over what you know to be confidential information.

Privacy: Respect the privacy of your colleagues as well as the opinions of others. Before sharing a comment, post, picture or video, through any type of social media, obtaining their consent is not only a courtesy, it also is a requirement. 

Approval: Get prior approval for a post when, if a blogger or any other online participant posts an inaccurate, accusatory or negative comment about MoH or any firm clients, do not engage in the conversation without prior approval of your supervisor or Communications Department.

Recommendations: The recommendations and comments you post about other current and former colleagues or officially can have consequences, even if you are making the recommendations personally and not on behalf of MoH. 

Media: If you are contacted directly by a journalist regarding issues of concern to MoH, forward the query to the Communication or PR department. When you are reaching out to journalists, bloggers, ensure you have prior approvals and take every opportunity to build a reputation of trust and establish yourself as a credible and transparent professional.

Compliance: Depending on the circumstances, non-compliance with this policy may constitute a breach of contract of employment or other contractual obligations, misconduct (under the department's relevant discipline policy), or some other contravention of the law. Failure to comply with the policy may result in disciplinary action and, in more serious cases, may result in termination of employment.

Identifying inappropriate use: Where an employee becomes aware of inappropriate or unlawful on-line content that relates to the department, or content that may otherwise have been published in breach of this policy the situation and circumstances should be reported immediately to the Communication department. Privacy breaches can also be reported to the department.

This policy is effective from 15th April 2014 and subject to change

Copyright ©2014. All rights reserved. Ministry of Health UAE.

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