Marines can ‘like’ political Facebook pages but not ‘share’ them, new guidance says
Editor’s note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.
As a final, intensive year of campaigning begins ahead of the 2020 presidential election, the Marine Corps has issued a new message to troops making clear what’s off-limits to them in terms of political activity — particularly on social media.
The message, released this month, reiterates past guidance: Marines can vote and verbally express political opinions, but cannot use their uniform to suggest military endorsement. But it expands on historically grey areas that have gotten troops into trouble.
Regarding social media, active-duty troops and federal employees can use their accounts to express personal views, including those on political issues and candidates, “much the same as they would be permitted to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper,” the message states. However, if it’s clear from the account or post that the author is an active-duty service member, the posting must include a disclaimer stating that the views expressed are those of an individual and not the Defense Department or Marine Corps.
But sharing or linking to a political page crosses a line.
“Because an active duty member may not engage in partisan political activity, the active duty member may not post or make direct links to a political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group, or cause,” the message states. “Such activity is akin to distributing literature on behalf of those entities, which is prohibited.”
Shares are out, but likes are OK, according to the guidance. An active-duty service member can “friend” or “like” the social media page of a candidate or cause, but cannot invite others to “like,” “friend” or “follow” the page, or otherwise invite them to participate.
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