Social Media Guidelines
Sharing information is a basic tenet of higher education. Through social media, it is easier than ever to reach out to others and to share information. There have never been fewer barriers to sharing, but with this openness comes a need to know exactly what to share and with whom, as well as a clear understanding of what not to do.
WVU is committed to free and open expression and supports its faculty, staff, and students in the use of social media to connect with each other and to accelerate teaching and learning. Social media is a powerful tool that carries with it many rewards, but with those rewards come personal and institutional risks. The University has developed these guidelines to assist the University community in the safe, legal, and effective use of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and other social media outlets, and to protect users’ personal and professional reputations and the institutional reputation of the University. Because technology evolves constantly, these Guidelines will be monitored and revised as deemed necessary.
These Guidelines govern members of the University community, as defined in Board of Governors’ policy as “any person who is a student (including those at the Health Sciences Center), faculty member, University official or any other person employed by the University,” in their use of web-based social media.
- Use of social media must comply with all applicable University policies, guidelines, and regulations, including but not limited to: Board of Governors policies, Division of Human Resources policies, Administration and Finance policies, and University Relations and Information Technology Services standards and procedures.
- All use of technology resources must comply with the Information Technology Services Acceptable Use of Data and Technology Resources Policy.
- Users must not post confidential information about West Virginia University, its faculty, staff, or students.
- Faculty, employees, and students at the West Virginia University Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center (HSC) also must abide by the HSC Information Technology Services Guidelines, which contain vital information relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
- Content managers must follow all WCAG 2.0 and 508 Compliance recommendations including captioning of all video with correct spelling and grammar as well as other accessibility guidelines including alt tags for graphics. If a video is not transcribed by another group, it should not be shared.
Posting on Behalf of West Virginia University
- Posting content on social media websites on behalf of the University requires specific authorization.
- All social media accounts created on behalf of the University must be linked to a department’s administrative or resource e-mail account, never a personal e-mail account. More than one University employee must have administrative access to the account. In the event that a site requires an individual account, a unique account should be created expressly for this purpose. No employee or student should be required, asked, or permitted to use a private, personal account for the purposes of creating social media accounts on behalf of the University. Administrative access will be terminated upon the employee’s termination, voluntary cessation of employment, or assignment to another job. If, for any reason, a University department’s social media account is presently linked to an individual person’s e-mail account, that person relinquishes all rights to the account upon graduation, termination, voluntary cessation of employment, or assignment to another job. Social media accounts created on behalf of West Virginia University are the sole property of the University; creators and administrators have no ownership rights whatsoever.
- Do not hide your identity. Clearly state your role and goals when posting on behalf of the University.
- West Virginia University trademarks and logos may not be used without approval. Contact University Relations for an approved logo and other images to ensure coordination with other WVU sites and content.
- WVU employees and representatives who post on behalf of the University must be mindful at all times of protecting the University’s reputation and promoting the University’s educational mission.
- Social media sites provide forums for thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas; if online conversations become volatile or hostile, employees and representatives of the University must remain respectful, professional, and conscious of the University’s primary role as an educational institution.
- If a question or comment is directed to one of the University’s social media sites or pages, strive to respond in a timely and appropriate fashion. Supervisors should determine who will be permitted to respond directly to users and whether prior approval is required before issuing a response.
- Keep in mind that posts may be viewed by anyone, anywhere in the world, and material can be copied and forwarded. In addition, search engines may find posts years after their publication dates.
- Be familiar with the terms of service and policies of the sites and networks with which you interact and ensure that you follow them.
- Keep personal views separate from University posts. When posting on behalf of the University, ensure that the contents of your post will further the University’s mission and reflect positively on your department and the University as a whole.
- Be wary of posting links to another website, as they could contain viruses or imply the University’s endorsement of the linked site.
- Do not publish any information that you have learned through your job, such as closings, cancellations, emergencies, or other non-public information, until it has been officially announced by University Relations or other authorized persons.
- Do not cite or reference colleagues or co-workers without their approval.
- Do not post confidential information about the University, its faculty, staff, or students. Become familiar with the FERPA and HIPAA statutes and regulations that impose restrictions on the sharing of certain information. If you have questions regarding these standards, contact the University’s Office of General Counsel.
Posting Personal Comments
- Identify yourself and be clear that you are sharing your personal views and that they do not represent the views of the University. If you discuss higher education or issues related to WVU, it is suggested that you add the following disclaimer: "The views expressed here are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect those of West Virginia University."
- Never pretend to be someone else and remember that tracking tools may trace the authors of supposedly anonymous posts.
- Refrain from harassing, abusive, threatening, intimidating, endangering, fear-provoking, dishonest, deceptive, coercive, or harmful language toward others. A legitimate criticism or other statement of opinion, expressed in a respectful manner, is not prohibited by this guideline.
- Strive to maintain an appropriate and respectful tone when engaging in online discussion. Even though you are not speaking on behalf of the institution, readers will likely associate you with it. The actions and words of even one student may reflect on the reputation of the entire University.
- You can be held legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Legal liability may arise for comments that are proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous, or obscene.
- Before posting, consider your audience. Future employers may search the web to screen applicants.
- Do not post unapproved projects. If projects you worked on at the University have not been approved for publication, do not post them on your personal website until the University has done so.
- If you are a member of the faculty or a teaching assistant and wish to use social media to relay information and discuss class topics with students, take care to notify students of whether material posted on the site will remain private or will be shared publicly. Consider providing students with the choice to opt out of participation in social media sites, or permit them to use aliases if they have privacy concerns.
- If you require use of social media a part of course participation, allow students the option of creating a unique personal account to be used expressly for this purposes; however, should the student choose not to, the student should be reminded that posts on the personal account regarding the course or WVU will not be considered personal or private.
- Do not use the Flying WV logo, the WVU logotype, the University seal, the image of the Mountaineer, or any other WVU marks or images on your online sites. Do not use WVU’s name to promote or endorse any product, cause, political party, or candidate.
- Protect your personal information from identity thieves and scam artists. Do not provide your home address, telephone number, work e-mail address, or work phone number. Consider creating an e-mail address that you use only for social media sites.
- Participate responsibly in online communities by following a code of ethics. There are many codes of ethics for bloggers and active participants in social media. If you have your own social media site, you may want to post your own code of ethics.