The Foreign Service Journal - September 2016
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Hashtags serve as a rallying cry, help-

ing to give recognition to causes and

often bringing them to an international


So what’s next?The Twiplomacy study

has found that world leaders who are

active on Twitter have also embraced

Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Now

governments and foreign ministries are

increasingly turning to niche apps, such

as Snapchat, Vine and Periscope, to reach

the next generation of voters.

—Gemma Dvorak, Associate Editor

Work for Uncle Sam?

Be Careful About Wading

into the 2016 Election


mericans have no shortage of strong

feelings about this year’s presiden-

tial race. But federal government workers

need to be careful about what they say

about the race, says Josh Lederman of the Associated Press.

There is a complex web of restrictions

This depiction of the virtual diplomatic network is color-coded by geographic area,

with red indicating Latin America, teal Europe, turquoise North America, yellow Europe/

Asia, white Asia, deep blue Oceania, grey regional, pink Africa and bright green Asia/



which limits political activity by govern-

ment workers, especially when they’re on

the clock. Not all the rules are obvious,

and they vary widely for different types of


As election season heats up, agencies

from the White House to the U.S. Postal

Service are trying to educate workers

about what they can and can’t do without

violating the Hatch Act.

Under the Hatch Act, government

employees in the United States cannot

engage in political activity while they are

on duty or in their office or work vehicle,

with few exceptions.

In their private time, federal employees

are free to advocate for candidates, donate

money, even speak at a rally or fundraiser,

as long as they don’t mention their official

titles. But they can’t solicit or collect dona-

tions from others, even on their own time.

Members of the Foreign Service and

their families posted overseas, who are “on

duty” 24/7, are prohibited from partici-

pating in any partisan political activities

related to U.S. elections. The only excep-

tion is if they are acting in a “nonpartisan

official capacity.”

Even Secretary of State John Kerry has

to be careful. In June he had to deflect a

question about the presidential candi-

dates when asked by a student at Oxford


“I’m not allowed under our law to

get into, actually full-throatedly, into the

middle of the campaign,” Kerry said before

moving on to another topic.

For detailed information on the Hatch

Act and State Department rules on politi-

cal activity, see the AFSA website, www.

—Gemma Dvorak, Associate Editor

Travel Advisories ...

on the United States


hree countries have issued travel

warnings urging their citizens to stay

on guard when traveling to the United

States, The World Post reported on July 10.

Following several shootings by police

officers, protests under the banner of

Black Lives Matter and the killing of five

police officers in Dallas, Bahrain warned

its citizens to “be cautious of protests or

crowded areas.”

The Bahamas suggested that visitors

to the United States should be care-

ful when visiting U.S. cities due to “the

shooting of young black males by police

officers,” telling Bahamian travelers (90

percent of whom identify as being of

African heritage) “to exercise extreme

caution in affected cities in their interac-

tions with the police.”

The United Arab Emirates advised stu-

dents and visitors in the United States as

follows: “Please be aware of immediate

surroundings and avoid crowded places

when possible.”