Social media guidance
Staff and students should be able to enjoy the benefits of social networking whilst understanding the standards of conduct expected by the University.
- Staff and students should apply the same standards of conduct online as they are expected to apply offline.
- Staff should be familiar with privacy settings of social networking platforms and should ensure that these are appropriate for both content and intended audience.
- Social networking platforms are in the public domain and it is not always possible to be sure what is being viewed, shared or archived, even if material is posted on a closed profile or group. There can be no reasonable expectation that posts will remain private and will not be passed on to other people, intentionally or otherwise. Material published online may have the potential to be available publicly, indefinitely.
- Students and staff are responsible for their words and actions in an online environment and are therefore advised to consider their use of language and phrasing, and whether any comment, photograph or video they are about to post on a social networking site is something they would want fellow students, colleagues and other employees of the University, their manager or people outside the University to see.
- Inappropriate behaviour via social media may constitute harassment and bullying and can be reported to the University Dignity and Respect Advisors.
- The University recognises that members of staff may occasionally wish to use social media for personal use at their place of work, by means of the University’s computers, networks and other IT resources and communications systems. Such incidental and occasional use of these systems is permitted, provided that: it is not excessive, does not disrupt, distract or is intrusive to the conduct of University business and/or work colleagues (for example, due to volume, frequency or cost), such communications do not bring the University into disrepute.
- Staff should not post messages, status updates or links to material or content which is deemed to be inappropriate by the University. Content includes: pornography, racial or religious slurs, gender-specific comments, information encouraging criminal skills or terrorism or materials relating to cults, gambling or illegal drugs. Inappropriate content or material also covers any text, images or other media that would reasonably offend someone on the basis of race, age, sex, religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity or any other characteristic protected by law.
- Staff have the right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression and can use social media as a means of communicating these. However, staff should be aware that when posting on social media or forwarding/publishing other's opinions or articles for academic debate (eg re-tweeting) then the same requirements on not posting or linking to inappropriate content still apply.
- The University does not directly monitor the social media accounts of staff. However, the University does monitor social media for mentins of the University and other topics of relevance, so that we can respond directly to those who are raising questions or concerns about the University that we may be able to answer. As might be expected, posts by staff may appear as part of this monitoring. The University also uses Twitter lists and keyword searches to identify posts from university departmental or staff accounts that we might helpfully promote or repost from the main corporate accounts.
- Staff or students should not engage in illegal activity through social media or engage in any activity that promotes terrorism. The very fact of possessing or disseminating terrorist material may be sufficient to warrant an investigation by the police and a member of staff or student would be put in the position of having to advance a credible defence. Further information can be found in the Code of Conduct for access to restricted materials.
- When disagreeing with others’ opinions, remain appropriate and polite. If you find yourself in a situation online that looks as if it may be becoming antagonistic, do not get overly defensive and do not disengage from the conversation abruptly; ask the Social Media Manager, Communications and Marketing for advice and/or disengage from the dialogue in a polite manner that reflects well on the University.
- If you want to write about competitor institutions, make sure you behave diplomatically, have the facts straight and that you have the appropriate permissions.
- Never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation or any parties the University may be in dispute with.
- Apologise quickly and honestly for any mistakes you make and learn from them for future social media activity.
- If you are concerned that there has been a misuse of social media by another collegeague or student, then you can report this to the Social Media Manager (Communications and Marketing), a Speak out Guardian or a Dignity and Repect Advisor.
- Be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy, and the University’s confidential information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully. Please read Security Tips for Users of Social Media.
- Watch out for phising attempts, where scammers may attempt to use deception to obtain information relating to the University.
- Avoid clicking links in posts, updates and direct messages that look suspicious. In particular, you should look out for URL's contained in gneric or vague-sounding direct messages.
Further guidance available
Further guidance for managers and employees can be found at:
- Dignity and Respect policy
- University IT regulations
- University Data Protection
- Agreement on Academic Freedom
- Security Tips of Users of Social media
- YouTube clip on the importance of privacy settings
Speak to the Social Media Manager, Communication and Marketing for specific advice and guidance.