Federal government and union officials are becoming more aware of the benefits and side effects regarding public servants' social media use after a bureaucrat at Library and Archives Canada used Twitter to poke fun at the government's strategic review process.

The tweet, which came from the worker's personal account in September, upset employees because it appeared to make light of ongoing cuts at the department. But the man said he intended the comment to be a joke.


An Ottawa social media expert is trying to help public servants learn how to use Twitter and Facebook professionally. (CBC)

The tweet spoofed a line in the Christmas Carol, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." It read: "Making a spreadsheet and checking it twice, gonna find out which job to slice."

After management found out, the tweet was retracted. The bureaucrat was also punished and transferred to a different office in the same department.

But the angry colleagues still chose to create a negative response through a Youtube video.

Social media shouldn't scare public servants

This incident should not scare civil servants from using the tools for good, according to an Ottawa social media expert. Workers will need to embrace the technology and carry on carefully.

'You've got to get comfortable with the uncomfortable'  —Caroline Kealey, social media expert

"It's hard to understate the risk — averse nature that already exists in the public sector," said Caroline Kealey, president of Ingenium Communications.

"You've got to get comfortable with the uncomfortable," said Kealey, who spoke to a group of public sector workers Tuesday about their social media use.

"It is a shift in how we communicate. The days of command and control messaging that goes up a very long chain of command is dead, that era is over."

Kealey said workers need to ensure they use Twitter, Facebook or Youtube in a professional manner.


With files from the CBC's Julie Ireton