Guidelines for the Use of Social Media
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Overview of document
- General Rules to Follow
- Social Media Suggested Best Practices when Posting as an Individual
- Social Media Guidelines When Posting on Behalf of the University of Alaska
- Safety Tips for Social Media Networking
The rapid growth of social media technologies combined with their ease of use and
pervasiveness make them attractive channels of communication. However, these tools
also hold the possibility of a host of unintended consequences. To help you identify
and avoid potential issues we have compiled
these guidelines. They are examples of best practices from various institutions and are intended to help you understand, from a wide range of perspectives, the implications of participation in social media.
Things to Consider When Beginning to Use Social Media
Applications that allow you to interact with others online (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.) require careful consideration to assess the implications of “friending,” “linking, ” “following” or accepting such a request from another person. For example, there is the potential for misinterpretation of the relationship or the potential of sharing protected information. Relationships such as faculty-student, doctor-patient, supervisor-subordinate and staff-student merit close consideration of the implications and the nature of the social interaction. The following are some guidelines to follow in these cases.
Sharing UA news, events or promoting faculty and student work through social media tools is an excellent, low-cost way to engage the community and build our brand. Employees are encouraged to repost and share information with their family and friends that is available to the public (press releases, articles in the University news, Internet news, etc.). The best way to share university news is to link to the original source. When sharing information that is not a matter of public record, please follow the below guidelines:
Do not post confidential or proprietary information about the University of Alaska, its students, its alumni or your fellow employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow university policies and federal requirements, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Review the HIPAA website for HIPAA requirements and the FERPA website for FERPA.
http://www.alaska.edu/bor/policy/04-10.doc University employees are also bound by the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, which prohibits you from taking certain actions in conflict with the university’s interests and from using certain information you developed or were exposed to as university employee that has not been disseminated to the public.
- Personal Use*: Students, Staff, and Faculty are prohibited from using university-owned devices (i.e., laptops or other university computers, University cell phones) to access personal TikTok accounts and software for non-university-related activities.
- Personal use means accessing the TikTok website or mobile app to create or review non-University-related posts or content for non-University-related reasons.
- Avoid using your @alaska.edu email address as the registered address for your personal TikTok account.
- Official Use: Current and future official uses of TikTok using university-owned or administered accounts and personal accounts remain subject to our existing policy and guidelines on official social media use [see below/link]. Official use of TikTok includes things like:
- Marketing, outreach, dissemination, and recruitment efforts in line with the existing social media policy on your personal or UA-owned device. Relevant employees responsible for marketing, advertising, or outreach efforts for your University or one of its units should ensure all current and future accounts align with current guidance and policies on official UA social media. Use an @alaska.edu email address for registering accounts that are exclusively for such use.
- Academics and assignments, including viewing TikToks, grading coursework, research, or other activities conducted on your personal or UA-owned device. Faculty who choose to incorporate TikTok into their coursework may use their personal accounts to do so, and do not need to create accounts registered with an @alaska.edu address for those purposes.
- Research and investigation for discipline, HR, or law enforcement purposes undertaken in line with current policy and guidelines on your personal or UA-owned device.
- The University will not block connectivity to TikTok via our wireless network(s). OIT continues to monitor developments and may adjust the response as needed; specific network blocks or access controls may be implemented and enforced as deemed necessary to protect sensitive or controlled information (i.e., information subject to security clearances, and sensitive research data).
- None of the above impacts personal use of TikTok on personal devices. As with all social media platforms, University community members are encouraged to take reasonable precautions to limit the amount of sensitive, personal information shared on TikTok and other social media platforms.
*Personal use of University information resources is governed by R02.07.053 of University Regulation.
The University of Alaska (UA) uses social media to supplement traditional press and marketing efforts. Employees are encouraged to share university news and events, which are a matter of public record, with their family and friends. Linking straight to the information source is an effective way to help promote the mission of the University and build community. When you might be perceived online as an agent/expert of UA, you need to make sure it is clear to the audience that you are not representing the position of UA or UA policy. While the guidelines below apply only to those instances where there is the potential for confusion about your role as a UA agent/expert versus personal opinion, they are good to keep in mind for all social media interactions. When posting to a social media site you should:
Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a UA faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your personal views and are not speaking as a formal representative of UA. If you identify yourself as a member of the UA community, ensure your profile and related content are consistent with how you wish to present yourself to colleagues.
A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their “About Me” page. If you discuss higher education on your own social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this: “The views expressed on this [blog, Web site] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Alaska.” This is particularly important if you could be perceived to be in a leadership role at UA.
Online collaboration tools provide low-cost communication methods which foster open exchanges and learning. While social media tools are changing the way we work and how we connect with the public and other higher education institutions, the University of Alaska policies and practices for sharing information remain the same. In addition to the general guidelines discussed above, when you are creating or posting to a social media site on behalf of UA you need to:
Sources: The best practices outlined above were compiled, with permission, from the University of Michigan, Office of the Vice President for Communications as well as referenced sources from within the University of Alaska.
The Internet is open to a worldwide audience. When using social media channels, ask yourself:
- Did I set my privacy setting to help control who can look at my profile, personal information and photos? You can limit access somewhat but not completely, and you have no control over what someone else may share.
- How much information do I want strangers to know about me? If I give them my cell phone number, address, email, class schedule, a list of possessions (such as my CD collection) how might they use it? With whom will they share it? Not everyone will respect your personal or physical space.
- Is the image I’m projecting by my materials and photos the one I want my current and future friends to know me by? What does my profile say to potential faculty members/advisors? Future graduate school/internship interviewers? Potential employers? Neighbors? Family? Parents? Which doors am I opening and which am I closing?
- What if I change my mind about what I post? For instance, what if I want to remove something I posted as a joke or to make a point? Have I read the social networking site’s privacy and caching statements? Removing material from network caches can be difficult. Posted material can remain accessible on the Internet until you’ve completed the prescribed process for removing information from the caching technology of one or multiple (potentially unknown) search engines.
- Have I asked permission to post someone else’s image or information? Am I infringing on their privacy? Could I be hurting someone? Could I be subject to libel suits? Am I violating network use policies, HIPAA or FERPA privacy rules?
- Does my equipment have spyware and virus protections installed? Some sites collect
profile information to SPAM you. Others contain links that can infect your equipment
with viruses that potentially can destroy data and infect others with whom you communicate.
Remember to back up your work on an external source in case of destructive attacks.