J&K Govt Asks Its Employees to Stay away from Discussions or Criticism on Social Media
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday issued an elaborate set of guidelines on the use of social media by government employees barring them to discuss or criticise any government action or policy online.
“No Government employee shall, through any post, tweet or otherwise, discuss or criticize on social media, any policy pursued or action taken by the Government, nor shall he/she, in any manner, participate in any such discussion or criticism on social media pages/communities/ microblogs,” an official order read.
The circular dated March 24, 2023 was issued by the UT administration’s General Administration Department (GAD) after the authorities claimed that they witnessed employees posting opposing views including under assumed identities allegedly.
“While using different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. or Instant Messaging applications like WhatsApp, Telegram etc., employees have been seen to air disparaging views on subjects that they are expressly barred under rules to comment upon,” the order reads adding that the employees have been seen commenting or acting in a manner that does not “conform to the acceptable standards of official conduct”.
“Such actions range from unauthorised communication of official information and/or dissemination of patently wrong or misleading information, airing of political or communal views etc. under their real or assumed identities,” the order said.
The administration under the new rules has also conveyed to government employees that they will be liable for any dependents, which includes family members, for maintenance, or are under care or control. The employees will be held responsible if they or even their dependents undertake any activity on social media considered directly or indirectly to be “subversive” of the government.
The employees, however, are allowed to use social media platforms to defend and explain to the public the policies of the government for the purpose of, according to the order, countering “misapprehensions” and “disloyal and seditious propaganda”.
“In case of a violation committed on a group platform, the ‘Administrator', if they are serving government/semi-government employees, shall also be liable for disciplinary proceedings,” the order said.
A social media policy was earlier issued by the Jammu and Kashmir government on December 26, 2017, banning employees from being critical of the administration on their privately held social media accounts. The guidelines, similar to those issued on Friday, were issued after the administration said it was facing “unwanted issues” due to various incidents in which employees had vented about their work stress online.
The fresh order also comes about a month after the Jammu and Kashmir administration directed all administrative secretaries to monitor social media networks and identify employees, who are critical of the government policies and issue notices to them.
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