What are the Department’s rules governing the use of social media by eligible family members?
- 3 FAM 4170 sets out Department policy for employees on public speaking, teaching, writing, and media engagement, including the use of social media. Social media posts pertaining to U.S. foreign policy written in an employee’s capacity as a private citizen must be reviewed/cleared by the appropriate office (3 FAM 4174.3). These provisions apply to Eligible Family Members (EFMs) when they are employed by the Department in any capacity in the United States or abroad, including those EFMs working at post under either an appointment or Personal Service Agreement (PSA) and/or who are members of the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC). EFMs who are in Intermittent No Work Scheduled (INWS) status or members of the FSFRC in Reserve Status, are employees of the Department and must abide by Department policies.
- Where review is required, the Final Review Office for FSFRC members at post (even if not currently working in a position at post) is the Chief of Mission or his/her designee. For FSFRC members residing in the U.S., the Bureau of Public Affairs is the Final Review Office. (See 3 FAM 4174.3.)
- The provisions of 3 FAM 4170 apply only to employees and, as such, do not apply to EFMs who are not currently employed by the Department in any capacity (i.e., not working at post or domestically for the Department or not a member of the FSFRC); however, the general provisions governing outside activities would be applicable, and the non-employee EFM should be cognizant of the general guidance provided in 3 FAM 4125 (Outside Employment and Activities by Spouses and Family Members Abroad). There is no expectation of privacy on social networking sites. Even where users have taken privacy precautions, hackers and other bad actors may still be able to access information.
Links to the Foreign Affairs Manual inserted above. Below is the specific cite linked to by D/Biegun in recent message (3 FAM 4123.3 (Employee Responsibilities Abroad/Political Activities):
3 FAM 4123.3 Political Activities
(Uniform State/USAID/Commerce/Foreign Service Corps-USDA)
(Applies to Foreign Service, Foreign Service National, and Civil Service)
A U.S. citizen employee, spouse, or family member shall not engage in partisan political activities abroad, other than authorized activities pertaining to U.S. elections. This provision shall not preclude a locally hired U.S. citizen employee, who also is a national of the country of residence, from exercising political rights deriving from that foreign nationality.
Shall not as in a commanding must not? Or else what?
Does the recent Pompeo-approved updated guidance for political activities restrictions from the L bureau addresses 3 FAM 4123.3 order and spouses not currently employed? Does this regs apply to all EFMs or are there exceptions? If so, what are the exceptions? Best to ask now, or later after surprises?