The State Services Commission has issued guidance for government agencies in using and monitoring social media, including blogs, wikis and social networking sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
"There may be uncertainty about the rights and obligations of State servants when using these tools, and about the application of the Standards of Integrity and Conduct, the code of conduct for the State Services," the guidance says. "When using social media in an official capacity, the protocols that apply are the same whether you are talking to the media, speaking at a conference or using social media", it states. The guidance says it is good practice for public servants to disclose their position and that they are representing their agency. They should only disclose information, make commitments or engage in activities when they are authorised to do so, the guidance says. They should also remember that comments will often be permanently available and able to be reproduced in other media. As for when public servants are off-duty, the guidance says state servants have the same rights of free speech as other New Zealanders, but with some additional obligations. "Regardless of the media being used, you must not do anything which could harm the reputation of your agency or the State services, and you must not disclose any agency material that you are not specifically authorised to disclose. "Where there may be uncertainty about the capacity in which you are acting, you should make it clear to others that your contribution is as a private individual and not as a representative of your agency. You should ensure that any comment you make on matters of government policy is appropriate to the agency role you hold, and you must respect the need to maintain politically neutral State services."
More on the government web standards can be found here.