Skip to main content

USDA Comment Guidance

The purpose of the USDA's communication forums, including social media sites, collaborative tools and other external sites, is to share news and information regarding the activities, policies and programs of the Department of Agriculture and its employees. We encourage discussion and comments on posts. Your insights are important to ensure Americans nationwide are informed and can be a part of the USDA's work, every day.

Social Media and Other External Sites

Social media managers should take substantive and meaningful action to prioritize the safety of USDA employees, our customers, underrepresented community members and protected classes. If a social media manager encounters an inappropriate comment or a direct message, then the social media manager may take the following actions:

  1. If the comment does not warrant a response and is not harmful, then social media managers may ignore the comment. For the benefit of a robust and constructive conversation, USDA will allow comments that relate to the topic discussed within the corresponding post. USDA expects users to show respect, civility, and consideration to all posts and other users.

  1. If the comment includes false information about the USDA and the social media manager feels that clarification of accurate information is important for the public, then the social media manager may respond to the comment.

  1. Social media managers should keep in mind the following when responding to comments:

    • Be polite when responding;

    • Correct the message, rather than the individuals who spread it;

    • Use facts and data when pointing out generalizations and inaccuracies; and

    • Aim to show a different perspective and share positive stories;

  2. If the comment includes the following content, social managers may hide the comment:

    • Hate speech, including targeted slurs, intended to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected group. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals;

    • Profanity, obscenity or vulgarity;

    • Nudity in profile pictures; such as material that contains sexual content, which is overly graphic, disturbing, obscene, or offensive or material that would otherwise violate the law if published;

    • Defamation to a person or people, such as comments that are discriminatory, racist, offensive, obscene, inflammatory, unlawful or otherwise objectionable statements, language or content;

    • Name-calling and/or personal attacks;

    • Comments whose main purpose are to sell a product;

    • Comments that infringe on copyrights;

    • Spam comments, such as the same comment posted repeatedly on a profile; and

    • Advertisements for inappropriate websites or social media accounts;

  3. If an individual repeatedly makes inappropriate comments that warrant hiding, then social media managers can block the user from the social media page. In these circumstances, it might be best to mute the account that is provoking the harm, and then take actions to block and report the user. Much the same, if the social media manager sees that another user is being attacked, then it is a best practice to report the profile to the appropriate social media platform.

We recognize that other social media tools are available 24 hours a day, and we welcome your comments at any time. However, given the need to manage resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours, Monday through Friday.

All participants in social media sites should be aware that information shared through the site may be subject to release to people who request it through the Freedom of Information Act.

Please note that communications made through new media channels, such as social media sites, will not constitute legal or official notice or comment to the USDA or any official or employee of USDA for any purpose.

This guidance may be updated or amended at any time.