Rescinded [2016-05-11] - Standard on Social Media Account Management

Describes the requirements for Government of Canada official social media account management
Date modified: 2014-03-06

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1. Effective Date

1.1 This Standard takes effect on April 1, 2013.

1.2 Requirements 6.1.1, 6.1.2, 6.1.5, 7.1 and 7.2 will be effective immediately. All remaining requirements will come into effect on a date to be communicated by the Secretary of the Treasury Board.

2. Application

2.1 This Standard applies to "departments" as defined in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act, with the exception of paragraphs (b) and (c), and unless otherwise excluded by specific acts, regulations or orders-in-council. Other departments or separate agencies not subject to these provisions are encouraged to meet these requirements as good practice.

2.2 Sections 7.1.2, 7.2 and 8.2 relating to the role of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in monitoring compliance and directing consequences for non-compliance do not apply with respect to the Office of the Auditor General, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. The deputy heads of these organizations are solely responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the Standard within their organizations, as well as for responding to cases of non-compliance in accordance with any Treasury Board instruments that provide principles and guidance on the management of compliance.

3. Context

3.1 Effective communications and quality service delivery are key priorities for Canadians and the Government of Canada. Social media is becoming an important means to advance these priorities as a growing number of Canadians are using social media to communicate, engage with others and conduct transactions. For many Canadians, social media is increasingly becoming the primary channel for sending, receiving and interacting with information from both individuals and organizations.

3.2 Social media has been proven to be a valuable tool in communicating important information to citizens, businesses and other stakeholders, either through direct interaction or by directing users to Web content. Social media can also be used for collaboration and crowdsourcing to support policy development and service delivery, and to facilitate public engagement.

3.3 As the use of social media by departments is rapidly increasing, the presence of the Government of Canada on third-party social media platforms is expanding accordingly. Although departments create and publish content for social media platforms, there is no common approach across the Government of Canada for managing official social media accounts or for assessing the privacy, security and other risks related to the use of third-party social media platforms.

3.4 This Standard will support Canada’s commitment to Open Government and enable greater information sharing, public dialogue and collaboration.

3.5 An entity will be responsible for ensuring a common approach for Government of Canada official social media accounts on third-party platforms and for implementing a social media platform management tool.

3.6 This Standard supports the Policy on Information Management and is to be read in conjunction with the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, the Policy on Government Security, the Policy on Privacy Protection, the Policy on Official Languages, and the Federal Identity Program Policy.

3.7 Additional mandatory requirements are set out in the following:

3.8 This Standard will be supported by the Guideline on Official Use of Social Media.

4. Definitions

4.1 Definitions to be used in the interpretation of this Standard are in the Appendix.

5. Standard Statement

5.1 Objective

The objective of this Standard is to enable a strategic and coherent approach for the management of Government of Canada official social media accounts.

5.2 Expected Results

The expected results of this Standard are as follows:

  • 5.2.1 Official social media accounts are clearly identified as Government of Canada accounts;
  • 5.2.2 Official social media accounts are effectively managed within departments and at the Government of Canada–wide level; and
  • 5.2.3 Opportunities are enhanced for communication, service delivery and collaboration through the use of official social media accounts.

6. Requirements

6.1 Heads of communications or designates are responsible for the following:

  • 6.1.1 Approving an overarching departmental social media strategy;
  • 6.1.2 Approving official social media accounts based on implementation plans, and overseeing the life cycle of official social media accounts, including planning, creation, configuration, implementation, evaluation and disposition;
  • 6.1.3 Providing submissions related to the creation, configuration and disposition of official social media accounts to the entity for review;
  • 6.1.4 Ensuring that departments use the Government of Canada social media platform management tool to manage official social media accounts as prescribed by the entity; and
  • 6.1.5 Ensuring that official social media accounts meet the layout and design specifications outlined in the Technical Specifications for Social Media Accounts.

6.2 The designated senior official of the entity is responsible for the following:

  • 6.2.1 Reviewing submissions related to the creation, configuration and disposition of official social media accounts;
  • 6.2.2 Creating, configuring and disposing of official social media accounts;
  • 6.2.3 Developing and maintaining a list of pre-reviewed social media platforms that will be informed by considering Government of Canada needs and priorities, including the following:
    • Reviews of social media platform–specific functionality and terms of use; and
    • Privacy and security risk assessments for social media platforms, including model Privacy Impact Assessments for social media platforms.
  • 6.2.4 Maintaining an index of official social media accounts, to be published on the Government of Canada website; and
  • 6.2.5 Providing and administering a Government of Canada social media platform management tool and communicating to departments clear expectations of use.

7. Monitoring and Reporting Requirements

7.1 Deputy heads are responsible for the following:

  • 7.1.1 Monitoring compliance with this Standard to ensure its effective implementation and ensuring that appropriate and timely action is taken to address issues of compliance as needed; and
  • 7.1.2 Reporting on compliance as requested by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

7.2 The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for the following:

  • 7.2.1 Overseeing compliance with the application and administration of this Standard;
  • 7.2.2 Recommending that corrective action be taken when a department or the entity has not complied with the requirements of this Standard; and
  • 7.2.3 Establishing a framework for the review of this Standard and ensuring that a review is initiated within five years of the effective date of this Standard.

7.3 The entity is responsible for the following:

  • 7.3.1 Preparing reports on activities related to this Standard as requested by the Treasury Board Secretariat; and
  • 7.3.2 Reporting on compliance with this Standard as requested by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

8. Consequences

8.1 In instances of non-compliance, deputy heads are responsible for taking corrective measures within their department with those responsible for implementing the requirements of this Standard.

8.2 Consequences of non-compliance with this Standard, or failure to take corrective actions requested by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, may include recommending to the Treasury Board limits on the spending authority of the department and imposition of any other measures determined appropriate in the circumstances.

9. Roles and Responsibilities of Other Government Organizations

This section identifies other significant departments that have a role in this policy domain. In and of itself, it does not confer an authority.

9.1 The Chief Information Officer Branch of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for providing policy advice and guidance, as well as for communicating with, and engaging departments on, the plans, progress, risks and challenges associated with implementing this Standard and its supporting instruments.

10. Related Legislation and Policy Instruments

11. Enquiries

For further information on this Standard, please visit the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Contact Us page.

Appendix: Definitions

Account creation

The process of registering, providing user information details, selecting an account name, and reviewing and accepting terms of service and related conditions for an account with a third-party social media platform provider.

Account configuration

The process of managing settings and elements on a third-party social media platform, including visual layout, privacy and security settings, and the enabling or disabling of specific functionalities. The arrangement of these settings and elements is to be done in a manner that meets the specifications laid out in the Technical Specifications for Social Media Accounts and that maximizes privacy, security and usability considerations. Account configuration is to be done in a manner that enables use of the Government of Canada social media platform management tool as determined by the entity.

Account disposition

The process that enables government departments to delete or otherwise dispose of official social media accounts that no longer have operational value, including, where appropriate, the archiving of historical data from the account.

Implementation plan

A tool, based on the departmental social media strategy, to ensure that factors relating to establishing and managing official social media accounts are considered. Elements of an implementation plan include the following:

  • Business drivers and objectives;
  • Allocation of resources, both human and financial;
  • Responsibilities and accountabilities, including the delineation of roles;
  • A completed Privacy Impact Assessment for the planned usage on each social media platform;
  • A risk management plan;
  • Management protocols;
  • A performance measurement strategy; and
  • A communications plan.
Official social media account

An account on a social media platform used for official Government of Canada purposes such as communication, service delivery, collaboration and other purposes within the scope of a department’s mandate, including as a designated spokesperson for the department.

Privacy Impact Assessment

A policy process for identifying, assessing and mitigating privacy risks. Model Privacy Impact Assessments will be conducted by the entity, based on common uses of social media for social media platforms frequently used by the Government of Canada. Departments can leverage these assessments to fulfill their requirements as appropriate.


Refers to the effect of uncertainty on objectives. It is the expression of the likelihood and impact of an event with the potential to affect the achievement of an organization’s objectives.

Risk assessment

Evaluation of the short- and long-term risks associated with participating on a social media platform, including business planning, decision making and operational processes.

Risk management

A systematic approach to setting the best course of action under uncertainty by identifying, assessing, understanding, making decisions on and communicating risk issues.

Social media

Online platforms that allow for participants to have a distinct user profile and to create, share and interact with user-generated content, which can include text, images, video and audio.

Social media platform

A specific software or technology that enables users to build, integrate or facilitate community interaction and user-generated content (e.g., Twitter, YouTube).

Social media platform management tool

A system, which can be configured for departmental user access, for managing and publishing to multiple social media platforms and the creation and management of workflow processes, group and user permissions, and content libraries. The system enables departmental users to aggregate, publish and manage multiple official social media accounts across different platforms from one tool and includes reporting capabilities.

Social media strategy

Provides overarching departmental guidance and plans for the use of social media, and takes into account the departmental mandate, business value for the department, and the alignment of social media with departmental and government themes, governance, performance evaluation, and lessons learned and shared by other departments.

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