The Department of Finance has opened access to Twitter or Facebook at work although use by staff will be monitored, according to an internal social media policy [PDF] published today.
It is one of the first agencies to give staff access to social media sites, not to mention allow personal use in the workplace "if it is incidental to formal duties" and all relevant policies are followed.
"For security reasons many agencies don't even allow their employees to access these sites," said Peter Alexander, manager of the online services branch of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).
"Until a few weeks ago, that used to be the case in Finance. But, in light of the work of the Gov 2 Taskforce, Finance opened up access to a range of social media sites to all staff.
"Employees were also provided with a set of guidelines on appropriate use of social media, including a how-to guide for Facebook and Twitter."
The policy said that staff wanting to participate in social media in a Finance capacity must create separate ‘work' and ‘personal' profiles and seek authorisation to post anything other than "factual, unclassified and uncontroversial matters related to the Department."
Anything posted in a personal or professional capacity should be from a profile linked to a personal - not Finance - email address, the policy said.
The policy said the Department did not want to limit staff participation in online discussions.
"But it is important that you consider the impact your online activities could have on the Department," the policy advised.
"It is important that you do not post information that could be interpreted as an official position or statement on behalf of Finance unless you have prior permission from your manager."
Use of Facebook and Twitter - "like all internet access from work" - would be monitored, the policy said.
The policy also provides tips to staff on using Twitter or Facebook for the first time.
It recommends staff use only Facebook Lite at work and that employees visit a page on the Sophos website "before [they] actively use Facebook" to educate themselves on good security and privacy practices.
Alexander said the guidelines were "only a first version, and could change over time based on the Department's experience with social media."