Social Media Policy


The Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS) Program endorses the use of social media to enhance communications, collaboration, productivity, and information exchange.  This policy focuses on and addresses:

1. RISS’s utilization and management of social media and defines its administration and oversight (referred to herein as RISS-utilized social media). 2. Personal use of social media by RISS employees (including RISS Center staff, RISS Technology Support Center staff, and any contractors supporting the RISS Program).

This policy does not address the use of social media by partner agencies and their users/personnel (e.g., a local law enforcement agency Facebook site) or the use of social media by RISS law enforcement member agencies as information resources for investigative or intelligence purposes (e.g., accessing social media sites as part of an investigation).

This policy is intended to guide RISS in the use of social media in general, as advances in technology occur and new forms of social media emerge.  This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis and updated as appropriate.


Social media offers valuable opportunities to assist RISS, its personnel, and its member agencies, partners, and the RISS Secure Cloud (RISSNET™) users in meeting community outreach and education, problem solving, investigation, crime prevention, and related objectives.  This policy addresses RISS’s use of social media and the potential to expand such usage as directed by the RISS National Policy Group (RNPG), as well as emerging tools that may be explored.

RISS recognizes that some RISS personnel participate in social media in their personal lives.  This personal use must not conflict with their official capacities with RISS.  As such, this policy provides precautions as well as prohibitions on the personal use of social media by RISS personnel when it can negatively impact RISS.


Blog:  A self-published diary or commentary on a topic that may permit readers to post responses, reactions, or comments. The term is short for “Web log.”

Page:  The specific portion of a social media website where content is displayed and managed by individuals with administrator rights.

Post:  Content and individual shares on a social media site or the act of publishing content on a site.

Profile:  Information that a user provides about himself or herself on a social networking site.

RISS Secure Hosted Websites:  Secure, full-function collaboration websites hosted by RISS and accessible via RISSNET on behalf of RISS member agencies.  Access to the information stored on these secure hosted sites is under the control of the partner-assigned website administrator.  The use and governance of RISS Secure Hosted Websites is addressed in the RISS Secure Hosted Website Application Package.

RISS-Utilized Social Media:  Social media sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) that are not owned or operated by RISS.  RISS maintains an account, as appropriate, with the individual social media site, may design a specific portion as offered by the social media, and provides content, pictures, and other information, as explained herein.

Social Media:  A category of Internet-based resources that integrate user-generated content and user participation and communication.  Users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.  This includes, but is not limited to, social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, MySpace), microblogging sites (e.g., Twitter, Nixle), photo and video sharing sites (e.g., Flickr, YouTube), wikis (e.g., Wikipedia), blogs and news sites (e.g., Digg, Reddit), and social networking tools offered on RISS Secure Hosted Websites.

Social Networks:  Online platforms where users can create personal profiles, share information, and socialize with others.

Speech:  Expression or communication of thoughts or opinions in spoken words, in writing, by expressive conduct, symbolism, photographs, videos and other digital formats, or related forms of communication.

Web 2.0:  The second generation of the World Wide Web focused on shareable, user-generated content.  Some use this term interchangeably with social media.


A. Strategy 1. When possible and appropriate, each social media site utilized by RISS shall include an introductory statement that specifies the purpose and scope of RISS’s presence on the site. 2. When possible, a link to RISS’s official website ( will be included. 3. The social media site utilized shall be designed for the target audience(s), such as RISSNET users, law enforcement officers, agencies and organizations, or information sharing/gathering initiatives.

B. Procedures 1. The RISS Outreach Committee (ROC) will be involved in the development and vetting of proposed RISS-utilized social media sites.  This may include, but is not limited to, the design (if applicable) and types of content to be posted. 2. Once social media sites have been approved by the ROC, the ROC chair will solicit feedback and approval from the RNPG regarding the overall mission, design, and type of content of each social media site utilized (e.g., RISS Facebook).  Once the social media site policy is approved, subsequent individual posts do not require RNPG approval. 3. The RISS Technology Support Center (RTSC) will administer social media sites or pages utilized by RISS, unless otherwise determined. 4. RISS-utilized social media sites shall display the RISS logo and the involved center’s logo, as appropriate. 5. When possible, RISS-utilized social media shall indicate that content is managed by RISS and shall have standard RISS public contact information prominently displayed (e.g., public website and center toll-free numbers).

6. RISS-utilized social media content shall adhere to applicable laws, regulations, and policies, including all applicable information technology and records management policies, as well as any content-sharing policies agreed to as a participant in a private social media site (e.g., Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities). a. Content is subject to privacy and content rights policies of the owners of private social media sites. b. Content must be managed, stored, and retrieved to comply with open records laws and e-discovery laws and policies. 7. When possible, RISS-utilized social media should state that the opinions expressed by visitors to the site do not reflect the opinions of RISS, its member agencies, or its partners. a. Clearly indicate that posted comments may be monitored and that RISS reserves the right to remove obscenities, off-topic comments, and personal attacks. b. Clearly indicate that any content posted or submitted is subject to public disclosure.

C. Personnel Use—Official Capacity 1. RISS personnel representing RISS on RISS-utilized social media sites shall:  a. Conduct themselves at all times as representatives of RISS, adhere to all RISS standards of conduct, and observe conventionally accepted protocols and proper decorum. b. Identify themselves as an authorized representative of RISS. c. Not make statements about the guilt or innocence of any suspect or arrestee or comments concerning pending prosecutions, nor post, transmit, or otherwise disseminate confidential/law enforcement-sensitive information, including photographs or videos, related to RISS, RISS member agencies, other RISSNET users, or RISS partner agencies’ training, activities, or work-related assignments, without express written permission of the information owner. d. Not conduct political activities or private business. 2. Authorized RISS personnel may use personally owned devices to manage RISSutilized social media in the course of official duties.  3. RISS personnel shall observe and abide by all copyright, trademark, and service mark restrictions in posting materials to electronic media.


A. Nothing in this policy is intended to prevent or discourage individual employees acting in a private capacity from engaging in legally protected activities such as those that may be applicable under the National Labor Relations Act to discuss wages, benefits, or terms or conditions of employment; join, form, or assist unions; raise complaints about working conditions for their and their fellow employees’ mutual aid or protection; collectively bargain for changes in wages and working conditions; or engage in or refrain from other protected concerted activities as applicable. B. Precautions and Prohibitions—Unless contrary to any federal or state law or terms of any binding employment contracts, RISS personnel shall abide by the following requirements when using social media for personal reasons: 1. RISS personnel are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media sites but should be aware of the possibility that their speech could impair working relationships of RISS for which loyalty and confidentiality are important, impede the performance of duties, impair discipline and harmony among coworkers, and/or negatively affect the public perception of RISS. 2. Due to the nature of RISS’s support for law enforcement and public safety efforts and entities, RISS personnel are reminded that speech on or off duty, made in connection with their official duties (i.e., information obtained through the employee’s professional duties and responsibilities), may have a greater impact than an opinion from a member of the general public.  In addition, engaging in prohibited speech may provide grounds for undermining or impeaching an individual’s subsequent testimony in criminal or civil proceedings. 3. When using social media, RISS personnel should be mindful that their speech becomes part of the worldwide electronic domain. Therefore, adherence to RISS Center employee policies, rules, or codes of conduct is required in the personal use of social media. 4. RISS personnel using social media sites who have either identified themselves or are identified as being employed by RISS are prohibited from the following: a. Speech containing obscene or sexually explicit language, images, or acts including statements or other forms of speech that ridicule, malign, disparage, or otherwise express inappropriate bias against any race, any religion, or any protected class of individuals. b. Speech involving themselves or other RISS personnel reflecting behavior that would reasonably be considered reckless or irresponsible.

c. Speech that adversely connects RISS to partisan politics or biased political affiliations. d. Speech that involves threats and/or “Internet bullying” language against any individual or organization. e. Divulging information gained by reason of their position or making any statements, speeches, appearances, or endorsements or publishing materials that could reasonably be considered to represent the views or positions of RISS. 5. RISS personnel are responsible for the content that they publish on social media sites and may be subject to criminal or civil litigation for violation of any law related to such publishing. 6. RISS personnel should be aware that privacy settings on social media sites are constantly in flux and should assume that personal information posted on such sites is not protected. 7. RISS personnel should expect that any information created, transmitted, downloaded, exchanged, or discussed in a public online forum may be accessed by RISS at any time without prior notice. 8. RISS personnel aware of or having knowledge of a posting or any website or web page in violation of the provision of this policy shall notify his or her supervisor immediately for follow-up action. 9. RISS personnel must comply with all copyright, trademarks, and intellectual property policies, laws, and regulations related to all RISS property, products, and brands. 10. Violating this policy may form the basis for discipline if deemed detrimental to RISS.