NASA Johnson Space Center PAO and MOD Ban Use of Social Media At Mission Control

By Keith Cowing
June 12, 2009
Filed under
NASA Johnson Space Center PAO and MOD Ban Use of Social Media At Mission Control

Editor’s note: This was emailed by Michael Interbartolo to the members of the open/public Facebook group “Greetings from Mission Control“. So much for transparency at NASA JSC’s Mission Control.

“I wanted to let you know that per new Mission Operations Directorate Social Media Policy I will no longer be posting any publicly available photos or videos whether it be on my own time or government time. Nor will there be any translation of the publicly released execute packages or the PAO media kit for the general public to better understand what is going on during a mission as it is not considered official PAO sanctioned release of information.

While I am disheartened with this policy and feel it goes against the mission statement of “To inspire the next generation of explorers… as only NASA can.” I will comply and there will be no updates during the upcoming STS-127 mission. It is my hope in the future the Agency/Center/Directorate will find a way to harness this and other social media tools and not limit the interaction with the public to those solely in PAO or the Astronaut Office.”

Update from Mike Interbartolo The policy which was internal to Mission Operations not handed down by PAO has been clarified and as long as myself or anyone else posts information that has already been released to the public (whether it be PAO websites, NASATV, MMT press conference etc) we are okay to engage the public on social media sites on a non-interference basis. Our prime job is still to ensure safe manned spaceflight operations.

Editor’s note: JSC PAO is ultimately responsible for all such policies. If it was implemented with their knowledge then shame on them. If it was not, then shame on them.

So Greetings From Mission Control will continue to post what it has for several missions pictures/videos and other mission ops data that folks could probably find on nasa.gov and elsewhere if they knew where to look or how to understand an execute package.

Editor’s note: THAT is great news – but this dysfunctionality vis a vis PAO, MOD and policies needs to be addressed such that everyone knows what can and cannot be done – and why.

NASA JSC MOD Memo: Policy on Use of Social Media

“Reply to Attn of : DA-09-010
TO: All MOD Personnel
/FROM: DA/Director, Mission Operations
SUBJECT: Policy on Use of Social Media

The following is MOD policy for use of “social media” (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.). This policy is consistent with JSC Announcement 08-032 and NASA Policy Directive (NPD) 2540.1F “Policy on Personal Use of Government Office Equipment Including Information Technology.”

This policy applies to all MOD employees: NASA, NASA contractor, and subcontractor personnel who are authorized by contract to use Government office equipment.

NASA employees and contractors are permitted limited use of Government office equipment for personal needs if the use does not interfere with official business and involves only minimal additional expense to the Government. Personal use means uses other than for official Government business. Some personal use is considered inappropriate. Specific provisions regarding personal use and activities particularly considered inappropriate are identified in NPD 2540.1F*. More specifically, section e, paragraph 10, defines “Inappropriate Personal Uses” to include: “Use for posting Agency information to external newsgroups, bulletin boards, or other public forums without authority.”

To be compliant, MOD will enforce a policy of not permitting the posting to “social” sites of mission operations information that has not been released by the Public Affairs Office (PAO). This includes, but is not limited to, realtime information. PAO is responsible for posting such information.

Original Signed by:

Paul S. Hill”

* (10) Use for posting Agency information to external newsgroups, bulletin boards, or other public forums without authority. This includes any use that could create the perception that the communication was made in one’s official capacity as a Federal Government employee or uses at odds with NASA’s mission or positions. Inappropriate use also includes participating in Chat Rooms, News Groups, or other similar activities where the posting and NASA internet address will be seen by the public. Adding a disclosure statement that the views expressed do not represent those of the Agency is not an acceptable alternative.

Keith’s note: Wow. So … MOD can pre-emptively make decisions that JSC (and NASA) PAO should be making. How dysfunctional. This is certainly in overt conflict with what the White House wants all Federal agencies to be doing so as to be “transparent” and “open”. Stay tuned.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.