FYI: Politics and Social Media

Article 2 min
Campaigning for a political candidate while on active duty⁠—including handing out cards or brochures to your coworkers⁠—is clearly a no-go. You may be surprised to learn that posting information about political candidates on your personal social media channels is viewed as the same thing by the Department of Defense. It's imperative to understand what DoD policy allows regarding politics and social media.

DoD regulations for political activities by members of the armed forces extend to personal social media activity. As a service member, you need to be familiar with all the policies that can prohibit you from posting and sharing online support for your favorite political candidate, whether you're in uniform or not.

In today's hyper-partisan world, it's imperative for public affairs professionals to remain apolitical. You must avoid implying your activities have DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement. You may express your opinion, but you may not encourage others to share your opinion, including links or social media posts.

Importantly, as an institution, the American people cannot be looking at us as a special-interest group or a partisan organization. They have to look at us as an apolitical organization that swears an oath to the Constitution of the United States—not an individual, not a party, not a branch of government—the Constitution of the United States.Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2016)

If you're an active duty service member, remember what is and isn't okay! The policy will vary slightly on your duty status and where you are. The following table breaks it down.

Comparison of social media activities you may or may not engage in as a service member.
When/where You may: You may not:
At any time or place
  • register, vote and express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but NOT as a representative of the Armed Forces
  • engage in political activity on a personal social media account if they are using such accounts for official purposes or posting in their official capacities
  • use official titles or positions when posting communication directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate in a partisan race, or partisan political group
While on duty or off, in the workplace or away


  • use an alias on social media to solicit a political contribution for a political party, a candidate in a partisan race, or a partisan political group
While on duty or in the workplace


  • endorse a specific candidate or encourage others to do so
  • post or make direct links to a political party, candidate, campaign or cause on your personal social media pages
  • comment or post on partisan political parties' social media pages, candidates or causes
  • share or ask others to like and share candidates, parties, groups or causes on their pages
  • share or post links to campaign information
  • engage in partisan political activities (such as campaigning for a candidate or asking for contributions)
  • use an alias on social media to engage in any activity that is directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate in a partisan race or partisan political group
While off duty and away from the workplace
  • like or follow candidates, parties, clubs, groups or causes on their pages
  • write a post expressing your personal opinion as long as it's not part of an organized campaign or a solicitation of votes for or against a political party or partisan political cause or candidate
  • sign petitions for specific legislative action


For more information on DoD Directive 1344.10 and the Hatch Act, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website. Also, see Guidance on Political Activity and DoD Support 2020 for the most recent guidance in the midst of an election year.

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