Compiled by Sarah Pacheco
All DOD personnel — military and civilian — are reminded to be aware of the limitations that exist when participating in political activity.
Social Etiquette for Political Activities
In general, active duty service members may do the following:
- Express personal opinions about political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the U.S. military;
- Join a political club and attend partisan and nonpartisan political meetings, debates, conventions or activities as a spectator, when not in uniform;
- Sign a petition to place a candidate’s name on an official election ballot;
- Make monetary contributions to a political campaign or party;
- Display a political bumper sticker on a personal vehicle;
- Write a letter to the editor or post a blog stating a personal opinion (the opinion must, however, specify that the views are those of the individual and not of the DOD and may not solicit votes for or against a partisan candidate); or
- Participate in nonpartisan activities that are not specifically identified with a political party, such as a referendum question or a municipal ordinance on, for example, tax or environment issues.
Active duty service members may not do the following:
- Actively participate in partisan political activities, including fundraisers (mere attendance does not constitute participation);
- Serve as an officer of a political club;
- Speak at a partisan gathering or participate in any radio or TV programs, including organized blog debates or discussions that advocate for or against a political party, candidate or cause;
- Seek nomination of candidacy for civil office;
- Display a political sign, poster, banner or other campaign material visible to the public at one’s residence on a military installation, including homes located in privatized housing; or
- Attend political events as an official representative of the armed forces unless authorized by the service secretary concerned.
Social Etiquette for Digital Media
With election season fast approaching, the DoD has published a set of guidelines for military personnel detailing what is allowed and what is restricted when participating in political activities.
Generally, all service members are “prohibited from acting in any manner that gives rise to the inference of approval or endorsement of candidates for political office by DOD or the U.S. military,” according to the release.
Below is a checklist of what active duty service members may or may not do in regards to social media activity.
This activity is okay in social media.
- Express personal views on public issues or political candidates via social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs), just as if writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper. If the member is identified as on active duty, the entry must clearly and prominently state that the views expressed are those of the individual only and not those of the DOD.
- Become a “friend” of or “like” the Facebook page of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign, group or cause.
- “Follow” the Twitter account of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign, group or cause.
This activity is prohibited in social media.
- Engage in any partisan political activity.
- Post or make direct links to a political party or partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause.
- Post or comment on Facebook pages or “tweet” at Twitter accounts of a political party or partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause.
- Suggest others “like,” “friend” or “follow” a political party or partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause, or forward an electronic invitation of solicitation from said entities to others.