MDC DSA Social Media Policy

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, much of our work remains virtual, giving heightened importance to our external-facing communications and social media channels for organizing, engaging and recruiting members, and keeping members informed. The following guidelines aim to clarify and develop best practices to facilitate our chapter’s work and public profile. Social media accounts refer to the chapter Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram, unless otherwise specified.

I. Guidelines on sharing content (i.e., not original content)

  1. Sharing external events, campaigns, and projects. Metro D.C. DSA is one organization among many in the left-progressive space in Washington, D.C. Through various campaigns over the past several years, our chapter has established relationships with many of these groups, and it’s common for us to work in coalition with other activists on shared goals.

  2. Currently, all requests from working groups or campaigns for the chapter to endorse or co-sponsor an event go through the Steering Committee. In alignment with this existing policy, we should only share upcoming events/rallies/protests from our social media accounts that have been approved for co-sponsorship OR endorsement. One exception is events on behalf of our chapter-endorsed candidates (e.g., an upcoming debate or a community canvass). I think some exceptions can be made for our established coalition partners (e.g., Black Lives Matter, Reclaim Rent Control, La ColectiVA), labor-related direct actions and strike support, or on an otherwise case-by-case basis. But in general we should limit sharing of externally organized events and projects to ones in which we have some involvement (feel free to ask Irene or another Steering member if you’re unsure).

  3. We should also be mindful of boosting external events/projects that conflict with DSA/chapter events! Because we have so many different campaigns, it’s inevitable that some of our events will overlap or take place at the same time (which is fine). But we should aim to avoid sharing external events that haven’t been co-sponsored or endorsed by our chapter especially if they conflict with chapter priorities (e.g., if we are doing GOTV efforts on November 3, we should boost/encourage turnout for that on our social media channels as opposed to an external organization’s teach-in that takes place on the same day).

  4. The idea behind this is to avoid confusion for members about what is or isn’t a DSA event when it’s being shared indiscriminately from our official accounts (will people go expecting to see a DSA contingent?), as well as to provide some incentive for organizations to reach out to us in advance about working in coalition if they want us to boost their event and mobilize our members to attend.

  5. This is also a liability and safety concern—if we haven’t vetted a particular event or aren’t super familiar with the organizers or details, we don’t want to inadvertently endorse or encourage our members to attend something that could be medium- to high-risk (especially if we don’t have a tracking/contact system set up to ensure members’ safety), potentially lead to arrest, or invite significant blowback onto the organization as a whole.

1. That being said, I know that Diego wrote in his [Instagram strategy document]( that interaction with other accounts, especially through stories, is critical to boost our own account and expand our audience. I don’t think this is as much of an issue on Facebook and Twitter (where we have a very large following already), so I would be amenable to making an exception for our Instagram stories if people think that’s appropriate. For example, I’m open to sharing some events happening around the NoVA, MoCo, and D.C. region on that platform, if we make sure to clearly indicate whether or not it has been co-sponsored or endorsed by MDC DSA. But would err toward sharing other types of content from these accounts if possible (see “Issue-based content and news coverage” below).
  1. Electoral and candidate-centered content. In accordance with the chapter bylaws, we are not able to share electioneering posts—including solicitations for donations or volunteers, campaign-related posts, or self-promotion—from any candidates who have not been officially endorsed by our chapter OR who have not been endorsed by DSA national or a different DSA chapter. (An example of the latter distinction would be sharing a virtual event from Detroit DSA about phone banking for Rashida Tlaib, a fundraising link from St. Louis DSA for Cori Bush, etc. We don’t do this often, but we are technically able to do so!). This rule applies even if the candidate is an MDC DSA chapter member or an otherwise left/socialist candidate that you might support individually. Sharing posts from DSA electeds is generally fine (e.g., AOC), but ideally these posts should be explicitly left/socialist.

  2. Issue-based content and news coverage. Sharing content related to DSA issues and our organizational priorities as well as timely news events is good!! For example, posting an Instagram story with graphics about defunding the police or explaining police abolition; retweeting a good thread from a reporter on how COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting gig workers; tweeting an investigative journalism piece on D.C.’s eviction courts; retweeting an article about how the OAS rubber-stamped the coup in Bolivia; sharing a solidarity post about a recent instance of police brutality; or sharing a video about the Green New Deal.

Volunteers with Twitter access should also feel empowered to write brief commentary on these posts. Just use discretion and be careful not to misrepresent or contradict the positions of DSA (when in doubt, ask!). Would also be judicious about sharing op-eds, even from lefty writers (e.g. avoid the semi-regular Jacobin hot take or a controversial essay on “why XXX is the most important socialist issue above all else,” but sharing a Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor New Yorker column on canceling rent and ending evictions is great).

  1. Would note that this section applies to both Twitter and Instagram, but probably less so to the Facebook page.

  2. DSA content. Pretty much a blanket OK on sharing/boosting posts from our branch accounts, our official campaigns (e.g. Stomp Out Slumlords, Socialist Night School), sections, as well as individual accounts sharing pictures from our own chapter events. We are also fine to share content and campaigns from the official national DSA account, national DSA committees (e.g., International Committee), or national DSA commissions (e.g., Housing Justice Commission, Democratic Socialist Labor Commission). Would also like to do a better job of boosting our Washington Socialist content and doing things to link back to our snazzy new site!

  3. The chapter accounts must be neutral on issues of internal DSA politics. Do not like/share posts or events that are organized by or specific to any particular caucus—including but not limited to Libertarian Socialist Caucus, Collective Power Network, Philly Momentum, Bread and Roses, Socialist Majority, North Star, and Emerge—and, by the same token, do not like/share posts singling out or criticizing any one ideological faction. We should also not share articles from caucus publications (e.g. The Call, The Organizer). The exception to the caucus rule is identity- or issue-based caucuses, such as SocFem, AfroSoc, and the ecosocialism caucus.

II. Guidelines on original content

  1. Overall, I think we should aim for at least two posts (whether in the form of original content, original posts, stories, or retweets) on our Twitter and Instagram per day. Our content should be guided by our existing campaigns and projects, which is to say, we don’t need to post just for the sake of it!! Between chapter/chapter-sponsored events and ongoing organizing work, DSA projects at the national level, and issue-based/news content, we don’t need empty or filler engagement posts (e.g. “Capitalism is bad, like if you agree”). Avoid open-ended, provocative posts which will likely just encourage trolling and be exhausting for everyone involved (we sort of have a forum for this type of “discussion” in the MDC DSA Facebook group, which is ok because that is user-driven and not from our official FB page).
  2. When writing original posts, be especially aware of language and inclusion (e.g. double checking that you’re using correct pronouns when referring to people, using gender-neutral language, reminder that abortion/reproductive rights do not only affect women, etc.). Make sure the person/organization you’re tagging is correct (double check the @) and check for basic spelling/grammar. Also please, please fact-check any original content—because we have such a big platform, we don’t want to post things that are misleading or incorrect. Mistakes/oversights happen, so just apologize and delete if they do and no harm done! If someone is making a fuss or the situation is escalating, please pass along to Irene or Ryan.
  3. Feel free to be creative, fun, humorous, etc. in tweets, quote tweets, and Instagram captions/stories, and to reply to people’s comments and questions! But avoid getting into arguments/debates or being expressly rude or crass from the chapter account—we are representing all of DSA, and our political opponents have latched onto things as silly as unseemly online behavior as a way to discredit our organizers to reporters and the media—and this can also negatively affect our working relationships with coalition partners. Our conduct on our official platforms should indicate that we are a serious, professional political organization.
  4. Try to only include hashtags when necessary (e.g. an official hashtag for an event or campaign like #DSA100K, or something that’s ubiquitous like #BlackLivesMatter), and limit to max two to three hashtags within one post (otherwise they make posts look cluttered/spammy).
  5. Make sure that all event posts include a link to RSVP/register. If there is no image preview, make sure to also include/attach an image to improve engagement.
  6. Boost our Design Committee’s original work/graphics in our social posts as much as possible.

III. Other

  1. On all platforms, please make it standard practice to use alt text—brief text description of images used in posts—on all images for accessibility purposes.

  2. Volunteers running the social accounts should feel free to respond to DMs to the best of their ability. If you don’t know the answer, please post in the private comms Slack channel or direct the person to the appropriate chapter body. If it’s a sensitive concern (e.g., a grievance), please direct to Irene or Ryan.

  3. Any reporters/outlets reaching out over social media channels should be directed to email the media liaisons account (

  4. Mostly for Twitter: Try to avoid saturated content/repetition. For example, no need to tweet or retweet more than two or three posts about the same event, especially within quick succession, or share multiple quote tweets of the same tweet.

  5. Don’t feel super strongly about our following policy. I definitely do not follow back most individuals who follow the Twitter account and don’t think we need to. I think it’s fine for our Twitter and Instagram to follow left orgs in the region (that seem legitimate), prominent organizers/left leaders, journalists, and other DSA chapters across the country, as well as following back people who you know are chapter members.

  6. Something to consider for the future: Do we want a Spanish-language MDC DSA Twitter account? Would it be more effective to just post a translated tweet as a reply from our existing account (instead of building followers/audience from scratch)? Translate all original posts or just some? Because we don’t have to worry about character limits on Instagram, I think it would be awesome if all of our captions could be in both English and Spanish, as well as any original story content (could easily just do two panels)—would be happy to discuss capacity/what that might look like with the Spanish translation working group.