In an era of increasing transparency and interconnectivity, leveraging social media for communications and advocacy is critical. It can be fun and effective and that it can serve as a daily part of our work. At the same time, there is also the importance to make responsible decisions when creating, posting or otherwise contributing to blogs, social networks or other social media.

For the UN staff members

Kyiv, Ukraine 2016

While communication through social media networks is primarily a personal matter, this is not the same as it being private. In a lot of cases, written conversations inside these networks can be found through search engines such as Google and the affiliation of the author to the United Nations can also be evident. Even in cases where only your contacts can see what you write, there is a possibility that one of them will forward what you say and make it visible to a wider audience. As a result, for United Nations staff, personal conversation within social media networks should be considered public rather than private.

While we encourage UN staff to use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or YouTube, to blog and post comments on other people's blogs and engage in unofficial interaction about UN- whether for professional or private purposes – it is important to be in line with the UN social media guidance. Some basic and commonsense rules include:

Think before you post. Use your judgement and common sense before you post on social networks. When in doubt, just don't click the send button. Don't publish anything that you don't want to share with CNN, your mother or your boss. As UN staff members you are also responsible for knowing and following UN Staff Rules and Regulations – these apply online as well as offline.

Keep Safety and Security in mind, respect privacy. Respect people's right to privacy and don't take photos or videos without people’s permission, be especially careful with photos of children. It is our collective job to protect vulnerable people. Don't disclose any private information about yourself, your colleagues or your clients, especially in an operational context. Read and follow your office security requirements, never disclose travel information and personal details such as home addresses.

Observe neutrality. You are bound by the UN Codes of Conduct. Rules such as respect for diversity, impartiality, integrity and professionalism also apply to your behaviour online. Consider political implications, and please do not get involved with political initiatives (it is not allowed). In the context of social media, it is important to remember that this applies not only when you represent the UN or during working hours but around the clock and even when you are on leave. Share cautiously, even on your private Facebook page or when sending Direct Messages on Twitter. Resharing of content such as retweeting can be seen as endorsement, the same applies to "liking" or "following".

Be trustworthy. Always post accurate, updated information and avoid sharing hearsay. Be transparent and don't post anything UN related anonymously. Wherever relevant or possible, link back to the original source. Ensure your posts are based on facts, not personal opinions. Avoid endorsing or posting links to content that you haven’t read thoroughly. Give credit where credit is due - respect copyright laws and cite your sources. If you don’t know the answer to a question, refer it to someone who does - or say that you will respond later, once you have the correct information. Acknowledge and correct mistakes if you did something wrong.

Don't use the emblems, the UN or your agency logos on personal blogs or social media profiles. You cannot use the emblems or the UN logotype as any part of your personal blog or social media profile. Add a disclaimer, such as "Tweets are my own" but please don't forget that this does not free you from your obligations under UN Codes of Conduct.

Keep your manager in the loop. The UN requires that you obtain permission before publishing anything related to your function or assignment. This also applies to blogs and similar online publications. To avoid problems, discuss your work-related social media activities with your manager.

Observe IT security rules. Don't download or install software that you find through social networks on your work computer. If you have questions, please contact your agency IT focal point.