Marines Release New Social Media Guidelines, Troops May Not Share Political Pages

Ahead of the 2020 election the Marine Corps has released a set of new social media guidelines that applies primarily to those on active duty, but with some restrictions and caveats for those on reserve duty, as Fox News reports:

In a message, the corps said active-duty troops are allowed to voice their political opinions or endorse candidates on platforms such as Facebook, but the post must be accompanied with a disclaimer noting that the views expressed are that of the individual, and not the government or the Marine Corps.

Marines may not “share” political pages but they can “like,” follow or “friend” the social media page of a candidate or cause, according to the guidelines. They also can’t suggest others do the same.

“Because an active-duty member may not engage in partisan political activity, the active-duty member may not post or make direct links to a political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause,” the message said. “Such activity is akin to distributing literature on behalf of those entities, which is prohibited.”

Marines and sailors not on active duty have more leeway with their political opinions, as long as their posts don’t appear to tie it to the Department of Defense or Marines.

Political emails or political social media messages may not be sent or forwarded in federal buildings if the individual uses their personal electronic device and must be expressed on the service member’s own time.

Here’s more specifics, taken from the Marines new social media guidelines:

3. Online/Social Media.

a. Active duty members and federal employees may use social media to express personal views on public issues or political candidates, much the same as they would be permitted to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper.

If a social media site/post identifies the member as on active duty (or if the member is reasonably identifiable as an active duty member), then the entry will clearly and prominently state that the views expressed are those of the individual only and not those of the Department of Defense or the Marine Corps.

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Because an active duty member may not engage in partisan political activity, the active duty member may not post or make direct links to a political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group, or cause; such activity is akin to distributing literature on behalf of those entities, which is prohibited by reference (a).

b. An active duty member may “friend” or “like” a social media page or “follow” the social media account of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign, group, or cause. However, active duty members shall not engage in activities with respect to those entities’ social media accounts that would constitute political activity.

This includes suggesting that others “like,” “friend,” or “follow” the political entity; it also includes forwarding by email an invitation or solicitation from these entities to others.

c. Marines and Sailors not on active duty are not subject to the social media restrictions listed above so long as the member does not act in a manner that could reasonably create the appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement by the DoD or the Marine Corps.

What do you think of these new social media rules and guidelines for active and reserve duty Marines?

Are the new social media rules reasonable or over the top?

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