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     BLM New Media


Standards and Policies

New Media Strategy


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Standards and Policies

Valley of the Gods in Utah, photo by Bob Wick, BLM

Consistent with the Department of the Interior’s (DOI's) Social Media and Networking Policy, the BLM's Office of New Media in the National Communications Directorate (Washington Office or WO 600) provides authoritative direction, policy, and oversight of the agency’s official presence on public new media and third-party social networking services and tools, and serves as the official point-of-contact for DOI’s Office of New Media.

The online new media guide outlines the BLM's internal policies for using new media.  The BLM's Office of New Media will update the guide as policies and procedures change and new media tools are approved for use.
I.Approved New Media Tools
II.Standard Approval Process
III.Guiding Principles
IV.Comments and Interaction
V.Site-Specific Guidance 
VI.Unofficial/Personal Use of New Media
VII.Conduct on New Media Sites 
VIII.Federal Policies Applicable to New Media

Approved New Media Tools

At this time, the following external new media tools are approved for official BLM communication nationwide: 

• Media Sharing (YouTube and Flickr);
• Blogging/Microblogging (Tumblr and Twitter);
• Social Networking (Facebook, Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest);
• Document/Data Sharing Repositories (Slideshare); and
• Video Streaming (Livestream and Periscope).

The BLM's External New Media Strategy outlines the BLM's strategic framework for new media operations.

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II. Standard Approval Process

The BLM’s Office of New Media, working with the DOI Director of New Media and pursuant to DOI policy, is responsible for authorizing new media tools within the BLM and developing governance for their use.  In this capacity, the BLM’s Office of New Media establishes policy for use all new media tools within the Bureau, while coordinating with other BLM Directorates/Centers to ensure effective implementation.  Specifically:

• The BLM’s Office of New Media coordinates with the National Operations Center (NOC) to ensure that the Bureau’s information technology infrastructure can support the new media tools, and to coordinate configuration management.
• The BLM’s Office of New Media coordinates the WO Information Resources Management (IRM) Directorate on selection of third-party new media and social networking tools as it relates to impact on the BLM network, and consults with IRM on implementation of internal new media tools.  This policy does not apply to the maintenance of internal new media systems, such as Sharepoint and Lync.

Through a standard approval process, the WO 600 establishes third-party new media accounts for official BLM communication and public engagement.

To establish a new media account, a Washington Office (WO) Directorate or State/Center External Affairs (EA) Office must complete the Social Media Request Form and submit the form to the BLM’s National Office of New Media at  

Within the BLM’s States and Centers, offices and programs must submit the completed Social Media Request Form to the State/Center EA Office.  The State/Center EA Office will then evaluate the request and forward appropriate requests to the BLM's New Media Lead for final review and approval.

The WO 600 and State/Center EA Offices will evaluate each new media request based on the following five criteria:

1. The new media account must promote the BLM’s mission, advance a BLM priority, and/or address a tangible public need.

2. The requesting office or program must have adequate staffing and information to successfully sustain the new media account.

3. The new media account must reach an audience that is large enough or specialized enough to warrant the use of BLM time and resources.

4. The new media request must include a cursory risk assessment and management plan that involves collaboration with BLM communications professionals.

5. The new media site or tool (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr) must be approved for use by the DOI's Office of New Media.

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III. Guiding Principles

The BLM manages public new media and third-party social networking services in accordance with the following policies:

• Only authorized personnel may represent the BLM on public new media websites.

Definition:  The BLM defines authorized personnel as the BLM’s Assistant Director of Communications (AD-600) and Office of New Media, State/Center EA Chiefs, and designated personnel within their offices.  The WO 600 may designate additional BLM employees as authorized personnel on a case by case basis, typically upon approval of a new media account.  All other requests should be made in writing to the WO 600 through the BLM’s National Office of New Media at

Definition:  An employee represents the BLM on public new media websites by: using the BLM login to add content on the BLM’s new media pages; using the BLM logo on any new media pages; or establishing pages/forums/channels on external new media sites, whether or not the site is approved by DOI. 

• When posting information to an external new media site, an employee may not share BLM-related information that is not already considered public information. The discussion of sensitive, proprietary, or classified information is prohibited. This rule applies even in circumstances where password or other privacy controls are implemented.

• Per DOI and BLM policy, any BLM-related information posted to external new media and third-party social media sites and tools must reside on the BLM’s external website as well.

• The BLM is responsible for the content published on new media sites.  Content posted on an external new media site is in the public domain, will be available for a long period of time, and can be published or discussed in the media.

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IV. Comments and Interaction

Consistent with DOI policy, the BLM will allow all comments on public new media pages and will not alter or edit them in any way, except under certain instances noted below.  Authorized BLM employees maintaining public new media pages should frequently monitor pages and delete comments pursuant to the disclaimer below:

We welcome your comments and hope that our conversations here will be useful, informative and courteous.  You are fully responsible for the content of your comments. We do not discriminate against any view, but we reserve the right to delete any of the following: violent, obscene, profane, hateful, or racist comments that threaten or defame any person or organization; solicitations, advertisements, or endorsement of any financial, commercial, or nongovernmental agency; comments that suggest or encourage illegal activity; multiple, successive off-topic posts by a single user; repetitive posts copied and pasted by multiple users.

Comments in clear violation are to be deleted. Read the attachment, Should I Respond to Comments?, for more information.  When in doubt, employees should coordinate with their local new media contact

All official BLM new media sites must provide a link to the commenting policy and disclaimer.

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V. Site-Specific Guidance

Visit the DOI’s Social Media Guidebook available on the DOI’s external website for site specific guidance. 

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VI. Unofficial/Personal Use

All BLM employees may use new media sites in the performance of their assigned duties and responsibilities or for limited personal use.  However, employees should have no expectation of privacy for any communication executed on government-owned equipment, regardless of whether the communications are made by employees in their official or unofficial capacities.  When using new media, employees, contractors, and volunteers are bound by the Department’s current conduct and ethical guidelines.  Failure to comply with these policies may result in disciplinary action, up to and including removal from the Federal service. 

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VII. Conduct on New Media Sites

When using new media sites for official and unofficial/personal use, all BLM employees must follow the DOI, BLM, and Executive Branch conduct guidelines, to include: 

• Appropriate Use of the Internet;
• Limited Use of Government Equipment for Personal Purposes; and
• Standards of Ethical Behavior for Employees of the Executive Branch.

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VIII. Federal Policies Applicable to New Media

As with e-mail and other electronic means of communication, official use of public new media sites and tools must adhere to all applicable Federal policies, to include the following:

• Section 508 (Accessibility);
• Records Management, Retention, and Archiving;
• Information Quality;
• Availability of Information and Access to Persons without Internet Access;
• Usability of Data;
• Intellectual Property;
• Privacy;
• Federal Advisory Committee Act;
• Information Collection and Paperwork Reduction Act;
• Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); and
• Security.

The DOI’s Social Media and Networking Policy outlines the requirements of each Federal policy and provides direct links to related policies and resources.

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