Federal-Compatible Terms of Service Agreements
Read latest guidance on Terms of Service Agreements, April 2013: OMB Memorandum M-13-10 on Antideficiency Act Implications of Certain Online Terms of Service Agreements
By August 1, 2013: If you are an agency TOS POC, please provide an update to GSA regarding any TOS your agency is negotiating.
What It Is
Federal–compatible Terms of Service (TOS) agreements are special agreements negotiated between the federal government and vendors who offer free social media tools. These federal–compatible TOS agreements modify or remove problematic clauses in standard TOS agreements, and allow federal employees to legally use these tools.
Why It's Important
How to Implement
If you’re a federal employee, follow these steps before setting up an account to use a free social media tool:
- Review existing policy: Review your agency’s social media policy and guidance to be sure you understand requirements to use specific tools, branding, etc.
- See what’s available: Consult the list of free social media tools with federal TOS agreements. Keep in mind that even though a tool may be on the list, your agency may not have approved the TOS for that tool. Each agency considers its own policies, needs, expectations and practices, and conducts a legal review, before signing agreements. Among other sources, your agency counsel may want to review the OMB Memorandum M–13–10 regarding implications of certain online Terms of Service agreements.
- Work with your agency POC: Before you decide to use a tool, work with your agency’s Point–of–Contact for Terms of Service. This person will discuss your social media requirements and explain what already exists to meet your needs, including any TOS agreements that have been signed by your agency. This is also the person who works with your agency’s attorneys to determine if any new Terms of Service agreements are needed.
- If approved, create an account: If your agency POC approves and your agency has a signed TOS for that tool, you can work with your agency POC to set up your new account.
- Put accounts in the Social Media Registry: GSA created a federal–wide social media registry to help agencies inventory all their social media accounts and give the public a way to validate official social media accounts.
Conduct an inventory of social media applications currently in use at your agency.
Publish your social media inventory with corresponding TOS at "agency.gov/socialmediaTOS".
If your agency identifies a social media TOS that includes an open-ended indemnification clause, work with your legal team to renegotiate the TOS.
Provide an update to Betsy Steele at GSA by August 1, 2013, regarding any TOS your agency is negotiating. Coordinating with GSA ensures we are not duplicating efforts.
For State and Local Governments
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and the National Association of Attorneys General have collaborated in Terms of Service negotiations with social media providers on behalf of state governments.
They negotiated revised terms with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter:
- Facebook made changes to their standard terms that apply to state and local governments.
- Twitter incorporated revisions in Section 12B of their most recent general TOS update.
- The YouTube terms are available to state government agencies that request them through their State CIOs.
Negotiations with other providers are ongoing.
For Social Media Providers
GSA welcomes expressions of interest from providers who want to offer, for the federal government's consideration, social media products that are free of charge. GSA developed a model TOS template (MS Word, 55 KB, 5 pages, October 2011) listing the points, issues, and concerns that typically arise in standard Terms of Service and are problematic for federal agencies. This model agreement suggests replacements that would be acceptable to most federal agencies.
Find your agency's Social Media Terms of Service Point of Contact
View the list of negotiated Terms of Service agreements
Read about NASCIO's revised Terms of Service for Facebook for state and local governments
Review the instructions for vendors offering free, social media products for use by federal agencies
If you have questions that your agency POC can't answer or if you have general questions about federal-compatible TOS, you can email GSA.
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