Civil Servants and Social Media

Mains Marks Booster     3rd August 2023        

Quote: “Don’t fall into ‘Singham’ trap. Police uniform is not associated with authority and awe but inspires pride.” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi


  • Social media can be defined as any web or mobile based platform that enables an individual or agency to communicate interactively and enables exchange of user generated content. 
  • Ex. Meta, Twitter, Instagram etc. 
    • The advent of social media is transforming the manner in which information is shared and distributed. Civil Servants have generally been using it in the following ways: 



    Connecting with citizens

    • Civil Servants use social media to create a personal connect with citizens. This could increase public participation, build trust, and increase popularity of the concerned civil servant

    Sharing information and improving awareness

    • Public officials including civil servants share details of government schemes, latest policy updates, regulations etc. 
      • Ex. Delhi Traffic Police creating traffic law awareness through memes.

    Understanding public viewpoint

    • Social Media acts as database of public opinion. Many times it is used by Civil Servants to gauge feedback on policies and programmes

    Personal usage

    • Beyond official capacity, Social Media is also used by Civil Servants in personal capacity for expressing personal opinion and sharing other content

    Merits & demerits of using Social Media by Civil Servants

    Merits of Social Media

    Demerits of Social Media

    Accessible to Common People

    Ex. Use of Social Media to provide real time information during Biparjoy Cyclone in Gujarat 

    Principles of Neutrality and Anonymity

    • Civil service values suggest that officers be politically neutral and work behind the curtains

    Public Service Delivery

    Ex. IAS Vivek Bhardwaj - put in place a transparent and non-reversible regime for coal block auctions

    Inconsistent with the Parliamentary form of government

    • Ministers are directly responsible to the public and bureaucrats are only accountable to the line of authority

    Better Policy Making

    Ex. Recently, The Law Commission has asked for the feedback on Uniform Civil Code

    Blur the distinction between an individual’s professional and private life

    • All activities are disclosed and available to people 

    Create a Positive Outlook

    • Ex. IAS Prashant Aiyer has millions of Facebook followers, his biryani episode is noteworthy. 
    • He asked the inhabitants of Koyilandy in the district to assist clear a 14-acre pond covered with water hyacinth and slush on his Facebook page. 
    • He promised them a plate of Kozhikode’s famous Malabar biriyani in exchange. 
    • In response to his call, a large number of volunteers gathered to clean up the 14-acre Pisharikavu pond.

    Undue self-Promotion

    • Social media can be used by the civil servants to promote themselves and set a narrative to gain favour in Political arena


    Ex. Ips Abhishek Pallava aware the citizens regarding cyber- crime, new age technology etc.

    Issues of confidentiality

    • Ex. Election Commission sacked IAS officer for publicity stunt on Instagram during Election duty

    Core values to ensure effective use of social media by civil servants: 

    • Identity: Always identify clearly who you are, what is your role in the department and publish in the first person. Disclaimer may be used when appropriate. 
    • Authority: Do not comment and respond unless authorized to do so especially in the matters that are sub-judice, draft legislations or relating to other individuals. 
    • Relevance: Comment on issues relevant to your area and make relevant and pertinent comments. This will make conversation productive and help take it to its logical conclusion.
    • Professionalism: Be Polite, Be Discrete and Be Respectful to all and do not make personal comments for or against any individuals or agencies. Also, professional discussions should not be politicized. 
    • Openness: Be open to comments – whether positive or negative. It is not necessary to respond to each and every comment. 
    • Compliance: Be compliant to relevant rules and regulations. Do not infringe upon IPR, copyright of others. 
    • Privacy: Do not reveal personal information about other individuals as well as do not publish your own private and personal details unless you wish for them to be made public to be used by others. 


    • When using social media, civil servants are essentially acting as government spokesmen. They must uphold and represent the ideals of the civil service, including fairness, integrity, transparency, and courage, in this situation. Therefore, any position held by a government servant must be contextually appropriate and pass the ethical public service litmus test.