Govt employees barred from using social media platforms

Published August 28, 2021
This file photo shows icons of social media apps on a mobile phone. — AFP/File
This file photo shows icons of social media apps on a mobile phone. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: In an apparent bid to prevent leak of official information and documents, the government has barred all government employees from using social media platforms.

A notification issued by the Establishment Division on Aug 25 says no government servant can participate in any media platform except with the permission of the government.

The notification says that instructions are not intended to discourage any constructive and positive use of social media by a government organisation for engaging the people to solicit feedback on a government policy, suggestions for improvement in service delivery and resolution of their complaints.

But such an organisation shall maintain their social media platforms continuously or frequently to remove offensive, inappropriate and objectionable remarks.

The notification gave detailed instructions to government employees under Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1964, governing participation of government servants in different media forums including social media platforms for compliance.

“Rule 18 of the Rules bars a government servant from sharing official information or document with a government servant or a private person or press,” the notification added.

Referring to Rule 22 of the Servant Rules, the Establishment Division says that it restrains a government servant from making any statement of fact or opinion which is capable of embarrassing the government in any document published or in any communication made to the press or in any public utterance or television programme or radio broadcast delivered by him or her.

The notification warned all government servants that violation of one or more of these instructions would be tantamount to misconduct and lead to disciplinary action against the delinquent government servant under Civil Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020. Besides, it said, disciplinary proceedings would also be held against the serving government servants in case they were administrators of a social media group where any violation had been committed.

The notification added that Rules 21, 25, 25-A and 25-B of the Rules barred a government servant from expressing views against ideology and integrity of Pakistan or any government policy or decision.

The notification also bars a government servant from offering views on any media platform which may either harm the national security or friendly relations with foreign states, or offend public order, decency or morality, or amount to contempt of court or defamation or incitement to an offence or propagate sectarian creeds.

The notification highlighted that the government servants often engaged themselves with social media such as websites and applications that enabled users to create and share content or participate in social networking/virtual communities/online groups.

“They, while using different social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microblogging etc, to air their views on a host of subjects and sometimes indulge in actions or behaviour that does not conform to the required standards of official conduct, as envisaged in the Rules,” the notification added.

Such actions range from unauthorised relaying of the official information to disseminating the wrong or misleading information to airing of political or sectarian views etc. The Establishment Division has further instructed government servants not to indulge in unauthorised disclosure of official information.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2021

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