An official social media account is an account designated and approved to represent the Government of Ontario. An account can be created to speak on behalf of a ministry (for example, @ONgov/@ONgouv) or official government body (for example, @ONFireMarshal/@IncendiesON). These channels are created and maintained by the Ontario Public Service.

An official social media account:

  • is part of an approved communications, program or service delivery plan
  • is maintained by Ontario Public Service staff and resources
  • is officially designated to represent the Government of Ontario
  • formally represents the Government of Ontario using the official visual identity (for example, images, logo, etc.), naming conventions, account verification and official URLs

Guidelines for an official account

The following are guidelines for official accounts.

consult the communications branch in planning and running the account

must include a link to the Social Media Terms of Use (www.ontario.ca/social) in the account bio

must adhere to the Social Media Visual Identity Guidelines

be able to meet the customer service delivery standards for Ontario Public Service Social Media

adhere to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to ensure privacy standards are in place

ensure the social media account is recorded in the Ontario Public Service Web Database

If in doubt, don’t post it.


Official social media accounts should meet all regulations under the French Language Services Act and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act including:

  • providing all content and creative in both official languages
  • ensuring that all creative meets accessibility requirements (for example, font sizing, colour contrast, etc.)

Best practices for appropriate use

Appropriate social media use is based on specific circumstances. Here are some examples that may help guide the use of an official account.

Account management

Appropriate use

Examples of use that are appropriate include:

  • developing a social media strategy that includes clear objectives and customer service expectations
  • identifying and applying a consistent voice to ministry social media channels
  • responding to questions and clarifying misinformation
  • respecting permissions and acknowledging original authors (for example, photography, graphics, etc.)
  • actively offering accommodation for people with disabilities which could include a link to accessible video versions in your channel bio

Inappropriate use

Examples of use that are inappropriate, because they go against a policy or principle, include:

  • giving access to staff without prior training and/or knowledge of relevant language, accessibility and privacy requirements
  • allowing comments that violate the Social Media Terms of Use to remain posted
  • failing to provide timely responses to questions and misinformation
  • sharing content without carefully verifying accuracy or completeness

Sharing job-related/ministry content

Appropriate use

Examples of use that may be appropriate include:

  • sharing content relevant to your audience and ministry mandate
  • finding opportunities to communicate policies and programs to the public
  • ensuring content complies with the French Language Services Act
  • meeting relevant accessibility requirements and including an active offer to provide accommodations for people with disabilities

Inappropriate use

Examples of use that maybe inappropriate, because they go against a policy or principle, include:

  • opening an account without approval from Cabinet Office/Premier’s Office
  • creating shareable content that does not meet accessibility requirements and mobile device readability
  • not posting equivalent French content

Talking about the workplace

There are only rare occurrences where speaking directly about the workplace on official accounts would be appropriate — for example, publishing pre-approved posts live from a conference or event.

Official accounts should refrain from posting any specifics regarding a workplace, branch or division. This could include posting photos from meetings or parties, tagging colleagues or posting any content that could compromise the integrity of the ministry.

Sharing, tagging and liking

Before you share, like or tag, ensure that the account and account’s content is appropriate for your ministry’s audience.

It is important to have a content strategy for your channels and identify the types of information you should share, like or tag.

Partner and stakeholder content

To help identify opportunities to share relevant content without additional approval, staff are encouraged to create, with their communications teams, an approved list of:

  • ministry partners
  • stakeholders
  • specialists
  • other relevant accounts

It's important to keep this list up-to-date and ensure account content is appropriate for your audience.

Official minister content

An official ministry channel should only post photos or videos of a minister, when they are working in their ministerial capacity (for example, giving an official speech or making an official announcement). Do not link to or tag the minister's social media account.

An official government account should not share, like, tag or otherwise engage with any content posted directly to a minister's personal account. This could be considered a violation of the political activity rules and regulations.


Official channels are a digital representation of the government. These social media accounts provide content regarding products, services and announcements. They also respond to questions from the public both privately and publicly.

Ministry social media accounts are viewed by a wide audience and can be highly scrutinized by the public and media. Be thoughtful and consider the risks, to your reputation or the reputation of the OPS, when posting content or interacting with the public over social media.

Public servants who do not follow the legislation, principles or policies may be subject to discipline — up to and including dismissal.

Participating in political activity

Do not engage in political activity of any nature on an official social media account.

In addition, content posted on official government accounts must not include any political party symbols, identifiers or content.

Please refer to the political activity rights and restrictions

Collecting personal information, privacy and permissions

On official ministry social media accounts, it’s important that you do not collect, post or share private or personal information about others without proper permissions and approvals.

For photos or videos of individuals, proper permissions and approvals could include:

  • consent forms
  • posting a notice of collection at event
  • a verbal ‘OK’ is not enough

If you are unsure about what permissions are required or whether something is deemed private/personal, please speak to your manager or refer to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

In addition, no personal or identifiable information or content about the Ontario Public Service staff members managing the account should be published on the official government channel.

Example scenarios

The following scenarios demonstrate how to apply the social media guidelines. However, the potential risks and considerations are not exhaustive. Speak to your manager or Communications Branch if you’re unsure how to proceed.

Scenario 1

A ministry representative would like to help a friend’s business, who they feel has a great product or service. They’re planning to share and like posts published by the business to the ministry’s social media account, so it reaches a wider audience.

Potential risks and things to consider:

  • Is there a conflict of interest or perceived to be a conflict of interest?
  • Is the information partisan?
  • Does it relate to a ministry or government initiative?
  • Does this reflect poorly on the government in any way?


Before sharing content from the business, the OPS social media staff member should consider the risks. The staff member should not share or post the content as this could be considered a violation of the conflict of interest rules. Additionally, the information may not be from a government trusted source and/or not relate to the ministry or a government initiative.

Note: if a current or former public servant believes they have an actual or potential conflict of interest, they are required to contact their Ethics Executive.

Read more about the legislation, principles and policies for social media use.

Scenario 2

A ministry social media staff member is asked by another ministry to help amplify an announcement. They’ve been asked to share the post across their ministry’s channel to help the message reach a wider audience.

Potential risks and things to consider:

  • Does it relate to your ministry?
  • Would your audience find this content relevant?
  • Could your audience benefit from knowing this information?


Before sharing the content, the OPS social media staff member should consider the risks. If the content relates to the ministry, is relevant and beneficial to their audience and it meets all accessibility standards, then the OPS social media staff member would be okay to proceed.

Read more about the legislation, principles and policies for social media use.