Ministers no longer to use public funds for personal social media

DOI - Jason Borg

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Ministers and parliamentary secretaries will no longer use public resources to generate content for their personal social media pages following an investigation by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, George Hyzler.

In a report published on Thursday, the Commissioner of Standards stated that the practice of publishing content that appears to have been created specifically for their personal social media channels using official resources should be discontinued. He noted that the ministers and parliamentary secretaries were using public resources to raise their own personal and political profiles, and that this was a misuse of public resources which blurred their roles as members of the executive and as politicians.

Material generated using public resources should only be uploaded to official sites. After its publication, the material may be shared from the personal page of a minister.

The Standards Commissioner said that personal social media channels should adhere to the following rules:

  • under no circumstance should such channels benefit from public funds and resources, whether directly or indirectly, even in relation to content that deals with the official activities of a minister or parliamentary secretary, except through the sharing of official content as indicated below;
  • such channels should not give the impression that they are official in nature;
  • accordingly, government or other official symbols and identifiers cannot be used, except through the sharing of official content as indicated below;
  • official audio-visual material that has already been published can be shared, as long as it is clear that such content is being shared from an official source;
  • official audio-visual material that has been generated for official purposes but not published can be used, as long as the source is acknowledged.

The investigation came after Lovin Malta CEO and co-founder Chris Peregin wrote to the Standards Commissioner saying that ministers were curating their personal Facebook pages using public funds.

In his conclusions, Hyzler said that Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis had informed him that the government agreed that ministers and parliamentary secretaries will be bound by the guidelines on the use of social media.

The full report may be found here.