Hatch Act Social Media and Email Guidance



The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has updated its guidance regarding when federal employees’ use of social media and email could violate the Hatch Act. The guidance has been issued in a Frequently Asked Questions​ (FAQs) format (printable pdf​) and covers the most common issues that arise in this context. 

In a new and improved streamlined format, the FAQs reiterate much of what OSC previously has advised but includes some new issues and notable changes. For example, we address whether federal employees may display campaign logos or candidate photographs as their cover photos or profile pictures on Facebook and Twitter. OSC also is now advising that further restricted employees—similar to all federal employees—may “like” a social media post from a partisan group or a candidate in a partisan race and may comment on such entities’ social media pages when not at work. Finally, we provide guidance about permissible emails that address current events or matters of public concern.

OSC also recommends its one-page handout​ on its social media guidance for federal employees.

OSC also has issued brief guidance​ (​printable pdf) on the Hatch Act implications of federal agencies’ use of official social media accounts.

Please contact the Hatch Act Unit at (202) 254-3650 or hatchact@osc.gov if you have any questions regarding these guidance documents.