Technical specifications for social media accounts

Table of contents

1. Introduction

These technical specifications ensure a common approach to identifying the Government of Canada on all social media platforms. They support the following mandatory Treasury Board policies:

2. Requirements

The following are the mandatory layout and design specifications for Government of Canada official social media accounts.

2.1 Social media visual and text identifiers

In accordance with the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity, all federal activities are to clearly identify the Government of Canada as the source and facilitate access to federal programs and services. In social media this is accomplished through the consistent application of the Canada wordmark to profile photos and avatars, and selecting identifiable account names and addresses.

2.1.1 Social media visual identifiers (profile photos and avatars)

The designs of social media visual identifiers described in these specifications are for use only on official social media accounts of the Government of Canada. They are not to be used in other applications or replace the standard corporate identity approach under the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity.

All social media visual identifiers must be based on provided master graphic files.

Government of Canada avatar: Flag symbol / Canada Wordmark
Government of Canada avatar

The Government of Canada avatar is the global identifier of government on social media applications.

The design consists of the flag symbol (FIP Red) positioned above the Canada wordmark (black, FIP Red), displayed on a white background.

Arms of Canada avatar: Flag symbol / Canada Wordmark
Arms of Canada avatar

The Arms of Canada avatar is used for identifying institutions, or areas of government, authorized to use the Arms of Canada in their corporate signature.

The design consists of the Arms of Canada (black) positioned above the Canada wordmark (black, FIP Red), displayed on a white background.

Custom social media avatars

Custom social media avatars are used in exceptional circumstances, such as identifying official themes under and in cases where their use is supported by a compelling justification.

Custom social media avatars must be approved by, and developed under the direction, of the institution's head of communications, in consultation with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Federal Identity Program.

The design consists of the Canada wordmark positioned bottom centre of the graphic, displayed on a white background, distinct from the approved creative approach.

2.1.2 Social media text identifiers (account names and addresses)

Institutions may select one of the following options for their text identifiers:

  • the institution's registered applied title or abbreviation; or
  • plain language keywords, theme names for accounts associated with themes, or abbreviations commonly understood by target audiences.

Addresses for official social media accounts representing government officials are identified by the title of the office and not the individual's proper name. Officials may be identified by their proper name in display name fields if the social media platform allows for ongoing modification.

2.2 Official languages

As required by Section of the Directive on Official Languages for Communications and Services, when an institution uses a separate English and French social media account, a link to the equivalent account is provided. This is achieved by incorporating the link within the social media account profile.

2.3 Multiple information sources

Institutions are responsible for ensuring that government information published on official social media accounts is accessible and available through multiple information sources. This is achieved by:

  • linking to the associated government web page from the social media account profile; and
  • ensuring that when communications products are posted on third-party platforms, they are also available on Government of Canada websites, as required by Section 6.3.5 of the Procedures for Publishing.

2.4 Social media notice (terms of use and privacy)

A link to a social media notice is applied to all official social media accounts. The notice informs users of their rights and obligations when interacting with the Government of Canada through social media.

Methods for applying a social media notice include:

  • linking to a government web page containing the social media notice; or
  • incorporating the social media notice within the account profile.

3. Trademark and copyright

The official symbols of the Government of Canada are protected under the Trade-Marks Act and Copyright Act. The Canada wordmark and corporate signatures are not used on non-government social media accounts, including personal or professional accounts of federal employees.

3.1 Reporting fraudulent accounts

Fraudulent social media accounts are reported to the policy centre responsible for the Federal Identity Program at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. This includes cases where non-government social media accounts are misrepresented as Government of Canada accounts.

For more information consult the Legal Protection of Official Symbols sections (Canada, international) of the Federal Identity Program.

4. Use of non-government logos

Logos of non-government organizations or private sector entities are not used on official social media accounts, unless:

  • the logo is part of the social media service and cannot be removed; or
  • the social media account involves a partnering or collaborative agreement.

For more information:

5. Account configuration and compliance

Aside from the requirements listed in section 2 of these specifications, and social media account configuration administered by Service Canada as the Principal Publisher, institutions have the flexibility to customize the layout and design of their official social media accounts.

Compliance with these specifications is determined based on:

  • applying correct social media visual and text identifiers (requirement 2.1);
  • incorporating a link to the equivalent account in the other official language, if applicable (requirement 2.2);
  • incorporating a link to the associated government web page (requirement 2.3); and
  • incorporating a social media notice (requirement 2.4).

6. Enquiries

Please direct any questions about these specifications to your institution's head of communications or Federal Identity Program coordinator, who in turn may contact the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat concerning their application and interpretation.

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