About AHRQ's Social Media Standards and Policies

Social Media Policies and Tools

As the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) continues to expand its social media presence, the Agency's goal is to ensure that social media outreach efforts by Agency staff and contractors are well coordinated and that the Agency maintains the highest standards for its brand and messages.

Those who wish to use social media technologies as part of official AHRQ communications must follow standards and policies that govern information and information technology. Below is a list of the standards and policies that apply to the use of social media. Visit the HHS New Media Standards and Policies Checklist for more information.

AHRQ staff should work with an Office of Communications (OC) representative to complete the AHRQ Social Media Checklist for any social media outreach.

For general questions on social media, Email socialmedia@ahrq.hhs.gov. For technical questions, Email Randie Siegel (randie.siegel@ahrq.hhs.gov) or Biff LeVee (biff.levee@ahrq.hhs.gov).

AHRQ's Social Media Presence

AHRQ uses and has policies for the following social media tools:

Twitter: AHRQ maintains two Twitter accounts, @AHRQNews  and @AHRQConf for the AHRQ Annual Conference. Please read the AHRQ Twitter Policy for additional guidance.

YouTube: AHRQ maintains a YouTube channel, AHRQHealthTV. Please read the AHRQ YouTube Policy for additional guidance.

Facebook: AHRQ creates Facebook pages for specific topics or campaigns. Please read the AHRQ Facebook Policy for additional guidance.

Blogs: Due to resource limitations, AHRQ does not currently maintain or monitor a public blog. Please read the AHRQ Blog Policy for additional information.

AHRQ Social Media Tools

AHRQ has approved the following social media tools for use:

Tool Function AHRQ Status
Twitter Microblog In use
Facebook Social network In use
YouTube Video hosting/sharing In use
Blogs Two-way communication Not in use
Flickr Photo Sharing In use
Challenge.gov Government contests/challenges platforms Cleared to use

See specific AHRQ policy guidance for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Blogs. Use of other social media tools listed on the HHS Terms of Service page is permissible, but specific AHRQ guidelines have not been developed for those tools. If you are interested in a tool not listed above, contact your OC strategic planner for assistance.

Criteria and Approvals. Please go to the AHRQ Social Media Checklist and the policy specific for each tool for complete details. Highlights of AHRQ policies for specific social media tools are as follows:

Note: AHRQ programs that maintain independent Twitter accounts, YouTube channels, Facebook pages, or blogs must assign staff members to monitor the account in accordance with AHRQ's Comment Policy.

In addition to reviewing AHRQ's policies on social media tools, prior to initiating social media outreach, Agency staff should also:

Content Guidelines

AHRQ follows HHS guidelines for social media content. Two valuable resources on social media content are—

Please also see AHRQ's policies on specific social media tools for specific guidance on content.

Usage Guidelines

Copyrighted Content

Ensure you gain permission to use any trademarked images, logos, or other copyrighted content. Go to AHRQ's copyright permission policy for more information.

Official Agency Sources of Information and Branding

Link to an AHRQ Web site from the social media tool.

Use branding on the social media tool that clearly identifies your program's ownership or sponsorship as a Federal Government entity.


Ensure that content posted or produced through social media tools is accessible to people with disabilities and is in compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Information Collection

Read the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance on Information Collection under the Paperwork Reduction Act to determine if you need to seek approval from the Office of Information Collection.

Official Public Comment

Do not solicit consensus advice (i.e., conduct polls) using social media technologies.

Public Privacy Protection

Work with OCKT to complete a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), if appropriate. An AHRQ representative will notify the HHS Privacy Team that you are starting an account with a third-party Web site and that you may need to complete a PIA.

Link or post the AHRQ Privacy Policy prominently on the third-party Web site. Additional guidance on how AHRQ regards privacy issues can be found on the Privacy Policy page.

Cookies and Third-Party Sites and Applications

Email Biff LeVee (biff.levee@ahrq.hhs.gov) in OC for assistance in determining if the social media tool uses persistent cookies that collect Personally Identifiable Information (PII). OMB requires sites that use persistent cookies but don't collect PII to meet a number of conditions, mainly in the site's Privacy Policy.


Contact Pat Bosco, AHRQ's Records Management Officer, at patricia.bosco@ahrq.hhs.gov or (301) 427-1207 to determine the appropriate records schedule and records management practices.

Comment Policy

Link to AHRQ's Comment Policy if you allow comments.

Linking, Liking, and Following

Include an exit disclaimer when linking to non-government links.

Review the individual social media tool policies for guidance on which entities are appropriate to like and follow using social media tools.

Helpful References

Page last reviewed May 2016
Page originally created September 2012
Internet Citation: About AHRQ's Social Media Standards and Policies. Content last reviewed May 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/policy/social-media/about/index.html