VA Announces Social Media Policy

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced today a new social media policy regarding the secure use of online platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The policy, titled “VA Directive 6515: Use of Web-Based Collaboration Technologies,” outlines the rules for the department and its employees to leverage these types of platforms to enhance communication, stakeholder outreach and information exchange to benefit the needs of Veterans of all generations.

“This isn’t about using social media because it’s cool or because it’s a fad,” said Brandon Friedman, director of online communications for VA.  “It’s about getting the right information to the right Veteran at the right time.”

“This policy sets us on a path toward changing how we talk—and listen—to vets,” he added.

According to VA, the policy encourages the adoption and use of social media and provides guidelines of appropriate usage boundaries for department employees. It also establishes a “open and transparent” communication philosophy with veterans.

“Veterans should have consistent and convenient access to reliable VA information real time using social media — whether on a smartphone or a computer,” said Eric K. Shinseki, secretary of veterans affairs.  “They also should be able to communicate directly with appropriate VA employees electronically.” 

The policy also advices employees to use “sound judgement,” when utilizing social media platforms. It advises employees to draw distinctions between personal views and professional duties and avoid misrepresenting the department.

“Employees who are not officially authorized to speak on behalf of VA must never state or infer their communications represent VA’s official position,” read the policy. “Similarly, employees should discourage Veterans and associated participants from seeking official VA determinations or adjudications via social media.”

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